Louisiana, a number of Texas counties to comply with SCOTUS ruling

DSC_3858WEBLouisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Louisiana would comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling beginning this morning, Monday, June 29. So will more north Texas counties.

A number of north Texas counties also announced they will comply including Denton. The county clerk in that county gave conflicting reasons why she was refusing to uphold the law on Friday including a computer issue and waiting to hear from the Texas attorney general.

Rockwall’s County Clerk announced on Sunday, June 28, that the county would begin complying with the law at 8:30 a.m. today.

On Decision Day, only Dallas, Tarrant, Johnson counties in the Metroplex and Lamar County, east of Sherman along the Red River on the Oklahoma border issued marriage licenses in north Texas.

Still no word from Collin County.

—  David Taffet

Jerry and Damien got married

IMG_0132Jerry and Damien were just one of 170 couples that got married in Dallas on Decision Day, Friday, June 26.

Here’s how their day went. They stood on line on the second floor of the Dallas County Records Building. Once they had their marriage license they headed over to the George Allen Courts Building. (The two buildings are a block apart, separated only by Old Red).

Before leaving the Records building, representatives from New York Life handed them flowers for their ceremony and the ACLU had them pose in their picture frame.

Downstairs in the George Allen Building, after passing through security (and both were all wired up because WFAA was following them as well for a video story), someone directed Jerry and Damien to a court on the 4th floor. When we got up there, that judge wasn’t in her courtroom, but next door, Judge Dennise Garcia, whose day began by marrying Jack and George, welcomed them.

Garcia asked how long the couple had been together. Three years, they told her. She stamped the certificate to waive the waiting period and begin the wedding. The ceremony was sweet and emotional as she told them, “by the power vested in me by the state of Texas AND the U.S. Constitution, I now pronounce you …”

After pictures following the ceremony, the couple returned to the Records building to file their marriage as legal in the state of Texas.

—  David Taffet

Dallas County issues 170 licenses on Day 1

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Judge Dennise Garcia marched down Cedar Springs Road from Cathedral of Hope after marrying a number of couples.

Dallas County issued 170 marriage licenses on Day 1 of marriage equality in Texas, according to Dallas County Clerk John Warren.

County Clerk John Warren began issuing licenses at about noon and kept his office open until 6:30 p.m. The office will continue to have extended hours for the first month after the ruling.

About 15 judges cleared all or part of their schedules on Friday, June 26, marriage equality day in Texas to perform weddings.

After marrying one couple, I asked Judge Dennise Garcia how many wedding she had already performed.

“I lost count,” she said, beaming.

—  David Taffet

Decision Day: The Press Conference

After the announcement that marriage equality would extend to 50 states, religious leaders and community leaders held a press conference at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Dallas County Records Building. Inside, couples began lining up for marriage licenses by 9:30 a.m.

—  David Taffet

Jack and George make it legal after 54-plus years

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Judge Dennise Garcia looks on as Jack Evans and George Harris wipe tears of joy from their eyes after becoming the first same-sex couple legally married in Dallas County.

Jack Evans and George Harris today (Friday, June 26) became the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Dallas County, and just minutes later, the first same-sex couple to legally wed in Dallas County.

After County Clerk John Warren and his head assistant clerk issued the license to the couple, they walked down the hall to a justice of the peace courtroom where Judge Dennise Garcia, who attends their church, was waiting to first waive the 72-hour waiting period and then perform their wedding ceremony as the crowd packing the courtroom cheered.

Here is a video — somewhat shaky, I admit — of their wedding.

—  Tammye Nash

LIVE UPDATES: Harris County to issue marriage licenses at 3 p.m., scenes from Travis County

Check out instant tea for ongoing coverage of the marriage equality decision and reactions from across North Texas and elsewhere.

I’ll be providing updates throughout the day. Have a tip or photo? E-mail me at russell@dallasvoice.com.

1:50 p.m.: Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart will begin issuing current marriage license forms to same-sex couples, reversing an earlier decision by his office. Stanart originally told couples to wait for correct forms from the state, which could’ve been delivered as late as 4:30 p.m.

1:49 p.m.: My friend Drew Stanley sent me a couple of photos from inside Travis County government offices, seen below:

1:19 p.m.: Terry Thompson took a photo of a few of us at the Voice around David’s desk. No surprise here: I didn’t want my photo taken and look like I want to punch someone. <3 <3 <3

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(L to R): David Taffet, Chad Mantooth, Steve Mobley, James Russell and Leo Cusimano.

12:53 p.m.: WOW. A lot is going on. I just got off the phone with Houston couple John LaRue and Hunter Middleton. The Harris County residents told me they were the first in line at the Harris County Clerk’s office this morning. Despite the Supreme Court ruling, the couple was denied a license.

An employee told the couple they were awaiting a decision from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office before issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. At a press conference, LaRue said, Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart said his office was also awaiting forms that indicate the correct sex from the stare.

Stanart had previously indicated his opposition to same-sex marriage.

LaRue said, however, the county attorney’s office wrote Stanart to use the current forms, just like other counties. Stanart said he has yet to see that letter.

Meanwhile Denton County couple Tod King and Casey Cavalier were denied a marriage license for similar reasons. They would have been the first same-sex couple to have gotten married in the county. They opted instead to get married in Dallas County.

12:01 p.m.: More photos from newlyweds Cpl. Tracey Knight and her wife Shannon:

11:55 a.m.: Jack and George Evans, after 55 years, have officially gotten hitched. They were among the first at the county clerk’s office this morning.

11:31 a.m.: Fort Worth’s Cpl. Tracey Knight, who serves as the department’s LGBT liasion, and her partner are the first couple in Tarrant County to get their marriage license. Knight said the police chief allowed her to go in uniform for the historic occasion.

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11:09 a.m.: News release from Tarrant County: “clerk to proceed with issuing of marriage licenses to all persons who qualify, regardless of sex.”

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11 a.m.: Sheriff Lupe Valdez, at a press conference, said “we now have the same rights, we have been waiting so long.”

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10:49 a.m.: Bill Reyno, left, and Chris Walters, right, have been together 6 years and plan to get married today:

Bill Reyno, left, and Chris Walters, right, have been together 6 years and plan to get married today

10:47 a.m.: Jack and George Evans, together for 55 years, finally will get their marriage license. George told Tammye, “I remember when you could be arrested for being homosexual.”

Here’s a photo of the couple:

Jack and George Evans will finally have a legally recognized marriage in Texas after 55 years.

10:44 a.m.: Tarrant County Clerk Mary Louise Garcia has given her employees the green light to get married.

10:34 a.m.: David reports that Judge Ken Mohlberg is awaiting orders from Dallas County Clerk John Warren before waiving the 72 hour waiting period to get marriages.

10:06 a.m.: The line at the Dallas County Clerk’s office as of 10:06 a.m.:

The line as of 10:06 a.m.

 

—  James Russell

A long road for Major and Beau

Major and Beau have been trying to get married since 2012. They were arrested several times after refusing to leave the Dallas County Records Building after the building closed when they were denied their license.

Once the U.S. Supreme court ruled that it was, indeed, their constitutional right to marry, they headed downtown to get their license. Major proposed at a press conference held outside the Records building and Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who checked in on them when they were her guests at Lew Sterrett, posed for a picture with them after they applied for their license once again — this time successfully.

—  David Taffet

Dallas County Clerk’s office will extend hours after the Supreme Court rules

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Dallas County Clerk John Warren

Dallas County Clerk John Warren told Dallas Voice he will extend hours to issue marriage licenses if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality.

Warren couldn’t say exactly what those extended hours will be or how soon after the ruling he will open the office to issue licenses to same-sex couples. That, in part, depends on the wording in the ruling that may give the remaining states time to prepare. However, when the court lifted the stays in a number of states in October, marriage began immediately in most cases and within a few days in other cases.

In Houston, Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart said “They’re destroying an institution, the institution of marriage.” But he said he would comply. In Fort Worth, Tarrant County Clerk Louise Garcia said she had no plan to deal with the rush but would comply with court rulings.

Travis County and Bexar County both plan to extend hours.

—  David Taffet

Taffet on the Road from Austin: Day 1 of the 84th Legislature

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Pete Schulte

Dallas Voice’s intrepid reporter David Taffet is on the road today, traveling aboard a bus with friends, family and supporters of state Rep. Eric Johnson, the Dallas Democrats serving District 100. They are all in Austin for the first day of the 84th Legislature and the inauguration of new and returning lawmakers and state officials.

Mechanical problems with the bus before the group ever left Dallas put them a bit behind schedule, but they got there just in time for the swearing-in.

Schulte to run for sheriff

Also on that bus is Dallas attorney Pete Schulte who, David reports, has just announced that he will be running for Dallas County sheriff in 2016, as long as incumbent Sheriff Lupe Valdez retires, as she has said she will do.

Taffet says that the Texas Capitol is packed today, with lines of people waiting to get in at all four main entrances. And according to reports in the Houston Chronicle that most reporters are being turned away, David may be one of the few reporters inside for the swearing-in ceremonies.

Secretary of State speaks

Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, acted as emcee of the opening day ceremonies. Berry, from India, is married to a native Texan and their two sons were born in Ethiopia., She spoke about the diversity of the 150 representatives elected by their constituents to be their voice in Austin, mentioning every part of the state — but Dallas.

Villareal declines oath

Temporary House officers were then appointed, after which state senators were sworn in and the House took roll call by district number. Rep. Mike Villareal, from District 123, declined the oath of office to run for mayor of San Antonio, but the rest of the House members took their oaths of office.

Here are a few photos from Johnson’s group, watching the opening day ceremonies from a committee room below the floor of the House.

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—  Tammye Nash

UPDATE: Early voting numbers in Dallas County

Early voting numbers in Dallas County are in, and the Democrats have a solid lead in the straight ticket tally, 77,693 to 62909. David Alameel, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, also has the lead in the early ballots, with 107,605 votes to 98,841 for incumbent Republican John Cornyn.

In other statewide races, Dallas County early voters went decidedly Democratc, as well. Democrat Wendy Davis leads Republican Greg Abbott in the gubernatorial race, 118,350 to 93,637, and Democrat Leticia Van de Putte is ahead of Republican Dan Patrick, 117,113 to 91,171.

In county-wide races, at least one Republican is out-performing her GOP colleagues. Challenger Susan Hawk holds a narrow early vote lead over Democratic incumbent Craig Watkins, 105,345 to 104,931. But in the county judge race, early vote tallies returned to form, with incumbent Democrat Clay Jenkins ahead of Republican challenger Ron Natinsky, 116,053 to 92,294.

Stay tuned here at DallasVoice.com for more.

 

—  Tammye Nash