Tarrant County Clerk Mary Louise Garcia on Friday, Sept. 25, released a statement saying that her office will accept common-law marriage affidavits from same-sex couples seeking to file such affidavits dated prior to the June 26, 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming marriage equality.
“As it should be,” declared Fairness Fort Worth President David Mack Henderson, after receiving a copy of the statement from Garcia. “Love wins!”
Garcia issued the statement in response to reports that an employee in the County Clerk’s satellite in Arlington refused to accept such an affidavit from a Fort Worth couple who have been together about 23 years. The employee told the men they would have to change the effective date to June 26, 2015, the date of the SCOTUS ruling.
The men declined on the advice of their attorney, Jon Nelson, who said that changing the date would be falsifying an official document, which is a criminal offense. Read David Taffet’s report on the situation here.
Garcia’s statement said:
“Today, my office reached out to DSHS to reconfirm their position on the above. However, they indicated there had been a miscommunication regarding the issue; and that applicants, regardless of gender, may apply for an informal marriage license using any date applicable to their relationship.
“Additionally, we sought an opinion from the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney on this same issue. They agree with the position of the Department of State Health Services.”
“It’s about making contacts with people and working with them to solve problems,” Henderson said of efforts to work with Garcia’s office on the issue.
“FFW thanks Jon Nelson for bringing this discrepancy in equal service to light,” Henderson continued. “We also thank Tarrant County Clerk Mary Louise Garcia and District Attorney Sharen Wilson and their teams for expediting the correct resolution in this matter. As indicated in the second paragraph, this clarification should apply throughout Texas.”