February 19, 2015 at 1:55 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Texas county issues marriage license to lesbian couple

Texas, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Sarah Goodfriend, Suzanne Bryant, gay news, Washington Blade

Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend on Feb. 19, 2015, received a marriage license in Austin, Texas. (Photo courtesy of Freedom to Marry)

Two women on Thursday became the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Texas.

Rabbi Kerry Baker officiated Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend’s wedding outside Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir’s office in Austin, the state capital, after they received a marriage license from her. The couple’s two daughters were by their parents’ side when they exchanged vows.

The women legally married a day after District Judge David Wahlberg ordered DeBeauvoir to issue a marriage license to them.

District Judge Guy Herman on Tuesday struck down Texas’ constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. His ruling stems from Sonemaly Phrasavath’s case in which she sought recognition of her marriage to her late partner, Stella Powell, for the purposes of carrying out her will.

The Associated Press reported that Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked the Texas Supreme Court to reaffirm the state’s marriage ban.

Goodfriend, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last May, said in a statement posted to the website of Texas for Marriage, a group that backs nuptials for gays and lesbians in the Lone Star State, said she wants to “finally be able to marry the love of my life.”

“Having faced a life threatening disease I realized time is precious and that I wanted to spend it on the things that mattered most — my family,” she said. “I didn’t want Suzanne to have to fight for the legitimacy of our relationship like Sonemaly did in Stella’s estate hearing. We have children together (Dawn and Ting) at home, lives we’ve built together and I want to finally have our loving relationship of 30-plus-years be recognized.”

DeBeauvoir will not issue marriage licenses to other same-sex couples because Wahlberg’s order only applies to Bryant and Goodfriend’s case.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans last month heard oral arguments in a case that challenges Texas’ marriage amendment.

The U.S. Supreme Court in April will hear oral arguments in lawsuits filed by same-sex couples who are seeking marriage rights in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

“While we join with Sarah, Suzanne, and their children in celebration of their wedding, we recognize that other couples are still denied the freedom to marry the person they love,” said Equality Texas, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, in a statement. “We urge the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to quickly issue a ruling affirming the freedom to marry for all loving couples in Texas.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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