After declaring yesterday that the Texas Supreme Court had voided the marriage of Austin lesbian couple Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is reportedly headed back today (Friday, Feb. 20), to ask the court to actually void the marriage.
Chuck Herring, the attorney for Goodfriend and Bryant, told KERA Paxton’s actions were “procedurally improper” and may lack substance to hold up before the Supreme Court.
Herring added, “He’s out of touch with history, he’s out of touch with constitutional law as declared by the United States Supreme Court, and it remains cold-hearted, mean-spirited, and just a terrible thing for him to try to do to a woman who has ovarian cancer.”
Taking advantage of a probate court ruling out of Travis County on Tuesday, Feb. 17 that struck down Texas’ marriage equality ban, Goodfriend and Bryant went to court yesterday to ask state Judge David Wahlburg to issue an order instructing Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir to issue them a marriage license, saying that because Goodfriend is battling ovarian cancer, their case qualifies as a medical emergency.
Wahlburg issued the order and also waived the 72-hour waiting period usually mandatory between the time a marriage license is issued in Texas and the time the couple can actually marry. Goodfriend and Bryant were then married on the lawn in front of the clerk’s office and then went back inside to register their marriage.
By Thursday afternoon, however, Paxton had intervened in the case, asking the state Supreme Court to issue a stay on Wahlberg’s order first, and to also overturn the ruling. Paxton had, on Wednesday, asked the Supreme Court to stay and overturn Probate Judge Guy Herman’s ruling from the day before. The court stayed the order and Paxton gleefully announced victory, claiming that the court had voided the marriage.
But according to DeBeauvoir and other attorneys, including attorney and former judge Barbara Rosenberg of Dallas, the stay simply kept other same-sex couples from getting legally married in Texas; it didn’t invalidate Goodfriend and Bryant’s marriage.
So Paxton, in his zeal to continue to “aggressively defend the laws of our state,” is headed back to the Supreme Court today. Apparently, though, he just means the laws that keep LGBT people from having equal rights, since he was accused last May by the Texas State Securities Board of having violated state law by soliciting clients, for pay, for a company that dispenses investment advice even though he had not registered with the board. Paxton paid a $1,000 fine.