Texas Might Have Married Its First Same-Sex Couple

Sarah Goodfriend (second from left) and Suzanne Bryant (center) hold up their Texas marriage license on Thursday, February 19, 2015.

At the close of their small, informal wedding ceremony outside the Travis County Clerk’s Office, in Austin, Suzanne Bryant took her new bride, Sarah Goodfriend, by the arm and rushed her inside the building so the two could make their marriage official with the state, “before they make it illegal.

By 9:45 a.m., the newlyweds were posing for photographs with their marriage license—the first and only same-sex marriage license issued in Texas—in front of a small gaggle of news reporters gathered in the clerk’s office. Their adopted teenage daughters, Dawn and Ting, stood alongside them, as did Travis County clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, who issued the license. It had been a hectic but significant morning for the family. But as the day progressed, state attorney general Ken Paxton issued a flurry of statements and court filings seeking to undo the historic marriage. As of the end of day Friday, it’s unclear whether or not the courts will consider Bryant and Goodfriend’s marriage license to be valid. Here’s a timeline to help clarify the events of the past two days.

Thursday, 8:30 a.m. Goodfriend and Bryant, who have been in a relationship for almost 31 years, hear from their attorney, Chuck Herring, that they can be married that morning. Herring petitioned district judge David Wahlberg for a temporary restraining order that would allow the couple to be married and would waive the 72-hour waiting period required between obtaining a marriage license and performing a ceremony in the state of Texas.

Herring was able to file this petition because of extenuating medical circumstances; Goodfriend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last May. She recently had her final chemotherapy treatment, but in a press conference held later in the day, she motioned to her short hair and said, “I think all of us wonder if the cancer grows back along with our hair growing back.”

9:00 a.m. Wahlberg files for a temporary restraining order (TRO) with Travis County district clerk Velva Price. The order, which identifies Travis County clerk Dana DeBeauvoir as the defendant, says “that unless the Court immediately issues a Temporary Restraining Order, the unconstitutional denial of a marriage license to the Plaintiffs will cause immediate and irreparable damage to Plaintiffs (Bryant and Goodfriend), based solely on their status as a same-sex couple.”

9:25 a.m. The TRO arrives at the Travis County Clerk’s Office, in North Austin. Bryant and Goodfriend hold their small ceremony, which was officiated by Rabbi Kerry Baker. They share their first kiss as a married couple and rush back inside to register their marriage.

9:45 a.m. Bryant and Goodfriend are officially married and pose for pictures with their marriage license in their hands, which Bryant later said felt like the most important piece of paper she’d ever held. Their two daughters and DeBeauvoir, who has long supported same-sex marriage, stood with them as they smiled and occasionally kissed.


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