BREAKING: Dying man wants his name on his husband’s death certificate

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James Stone, left, and Jay Hoskins at their wedding last August

Jay Hoskins is battling the state of Texas to amend his husband’s death certificate and he’s on a deadline. He’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

James Stone, 32, died in January in Conroe after a battle with Sjogren’s Syndrome, a genetic autoimmune disorder. The couple legally married in New Mexico six months earlier and had been together 10 years. We told their story when churches in his hometown refused to perform a funeral service because he was gay.

Because the death occurred before the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 marriage-equality ruling, Texas listed Stone as single and referred to Hoskins as “significant other.”

Hoskins is filing a lawsuit against the state but Texas claims it doesn’t have to recognize marriages performed prior to the ruling. He would like the matter resolved quickly because he’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer and may only have two months to live.

His attorney, Akin Gump partner Neel Lane, holds a news conference later today and will discuss the case. Check back for updates.

—  David Taffet

After Hood County relents, several Texas counties continue to hold out

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Former state Rep. Glen Maxey

Former state Rep. Glen Maxey has made it his mission to ensure same-sex couples can receive a marriage license in any of Texas’ 254 countries.

The biggest hold out until yesterday was Hood County, southwest of Fort Worth.

Today, Maxey has his sites set on Irion and Anderson counties.

Irion County is west of San Angelo and Maxey said he has a couple contemplating a road trip there.

Palestine is the county seat of Anderson County, south of Athens.

Anderson, with a population of about 45,000, is the largest hold out in the state right now. He said if anyone in East Texas needs a marriage license to send him a message.

Here’s Maxey’s account of the drama going on in Anderson County from his Facebook page:

So the drama and gossip from Palestine (better than gay drama queens gossip) says that the Republican County Judge, one Robert Johnston “ordered the County Clerk not to issue any same sex marriage licenses and told the JP’s not to conduct any gay weddings.” I learned about this from a person who heard first hand from one of the people in the meeting where the edict came down. ( Note: None of these officials answer to the County Judge. They are independently elected public officials. But he does control their budgets for pencils and toilet paper.)

We also know that a few couples may have gone to the Anderson County Clerk Mark Staples and were refused. Reportedly, they wanted to get married immediately and they went to a nearby county and got all licensed and married.

—  David Taffet

Alabama hasn’t been happy this week

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

Alabama hasn’t been happy this week and its Supreme Court chief justice seems to think U.S. Supreme court rulings can be appealed. They can’t. Or don’t apply to him. They do.

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, the judge that declared Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, issued an order today directing all Alabama probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The order requires immediate compliance.

A violation of Granade’s order could result in a county probate judge being held liable for contempt of court, attorneys’ fees, financial penalties and any other remedies the court deems proper.

In today’s order, Judge Granade stated:

Although most of Alabama’s county probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, some are not. The National Center for Lesbian Rights. ACLU of Alabama, Southern Poverty Law Center and Americans United who represented plaintiffs in the original case asked the judge to confirm that her order is now in effect.

—  David Taffet

Houston senator to DOJ: assure same-sex couples get marriage licenses

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State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, urged the U.S. Department of Justice today (Monday, June 29) to assure same-sex couples in Texas are not prevented from getting marriage licenses.

His request follows an opinion issued by Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, yesterday allowing county clerks and other government officials to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs.

You can read Ellis’ letter here.

—  James Russell

‘It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood’

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In Texas, including at Fort Worth’s Celebration Community Church, you can get finally married.

Two men married tonight before hundreds of people in a hot, loud and packed Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth.

But you couldn’t tell anyone was uncomfortable. There were too many tears.

“By the powers invested in me by the state of Texas,”  the Rev. Carol West said to a cheering crowd, she pronounced the couple husband and husband.

The couple kissed.

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” West yelled to the crowd.

Shortly after, West’s long-time partner, Angela, surprised the pastor with a proposal. West accepted and a little later, showing off her new ring to a friend, she quipped with a smile, “She went to Jarrod.”

Inside the church, Jesse Contreas was still floored. He married his husband a year ago in New Mexico. Now they can renew their vows here, in Fort Worth. At Celebration.

Contreas works in HIV prevention. His office celebrated when they learned the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Those of us who knew the struggle knew this was an awesome day for the LGBT community,” he said.

Tori Kujala and I talked outside of the church about her feelings.

“I said it on Facebook best, ‘free at last, free at last, Great God above, free at last,’” the 2014 Tarrant County Pride grand marshal said.

She was at work, like most other people I talked to, when she heard the news.

Her boss actually told her when the news struck.

Kathryn Omarkhail and Denise Bennett walked up and were holding hands.

They looked like any other couple there. They were enthusiastic because their marriage is finally acknowledged by their home state.

In 2005, they were barreling on Interstate 35 past Calvary Cathedral while then-Gov. Rick Perry signed the state’s ban on same-sex marriage ban, Omarkhail said. They were driving by in U-Hauls. While Perry celebrated another campaign plank that summer, they were married and moving in together.

Don Kennedy may have been joking when he asked if pastors had set themselves on fire.

“I know plenty of people ready to roast their weenies over a spit fire,” he said. He was joking.

The feeling was palpable for any veteran of the movement for LGBT equality. Even in modern day LGBT debates, the nasty rhetoric is just part of the process. Still, it stings.

Today, June 26, 2015, wherever you were, it really was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

—  James Russell

More dithering from county clerks, this time by Parker County’s clerk

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Parker County Clerk Jeane Brunson

Lord, you can really find excuses everywhere, can’t you?

Among the other county clerks hiding under the veil of discrimination is Parker County’s Jeane Bruson, according to the Weatherford Democrat.

The clerk had turned away five couples by lunchtime. She said state law prevents her from issuing licenses to same-sex couples — no matter the Supreme Court ruling or anything.

“There are several factors,” she told the paper. “One of the factors is that the State of Texas specifically states by statute that a marriage license can’t be issued for the marriage of persons of the same sex. That’s in the Family Code.”

Yet the statute she specifically evokes — forms must be issued by the Bureau of Vital Statistics — has been waived by other clerks, including in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant counties.

“To alter the old form would be in violation of the law,” Brunson said. “Therefore, my call to the Department of State Health Services said that they were consulting with the Attorney General’s Office and they would notify all county clerks as soon they had been given information as to how to proceed.

She admitted she could probably get away with it. “It sounds like it could be done easily if you say it quickly but I’m not going to break the law for anyone.”

Even if there is no law to break.

—  James Russell

Denton County Clerk dithering, but insists she’s not scuttling SCOTUS decision

As I reported earlier, a Denton County same-sex couple who were denied a marriage license this morning.

Tod King and Casey Cavalier told the Denton Record Chronicle they were denied a marriage license by the county clerk’s office this morning. Visitors were later greeted by this sign:

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(Photo credit: Sean Sala)

Throughout the morning County Clerk Juli Luke’s office cited those very sacred marriage license forms distributed by the state. By 2:51 p.m., she had deferred to the following: the state Attorney General Ken Paxton, the county attorney, the Bureau of Vital Statistics…Really she just could’ve said “no, I don’t want to.” But she’d likely be held liable.

In the second to last press release, Luke defiantly stood her ground:

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(Photo credit: Sean Sala)

 

Now Clerk Luke has taken a kinder and gentler tone, per the UNT’s North Texas Daily.

To no surprise, Denton County’s Cavalier and King instead opted to get a license in Dallas County.

—  James Russell

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

BREAKING: SCOTUS rules for marriage equality

DV Cover 03-15-13DThe Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality by a 5-4 vote with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority.

You can read the 5-4 majority opinion here.

Check the Dallas Voice for more information as more details. come in.

—  James Russell

AG Ken Paxton: wait for my blessing before you issue marriage licenses

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Attorney General Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement today (Thursday, June 25)  ahead of a pending Supreme Court decision on marriage equality urging county officials to wait for a legal decision from his office before issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Citing the state’s law banning same-sex marriage, Paxton recommends “that all County Clerks and Justices of the Peace wait for direction and clarity from this office about the meaning of the Court’s opinion and the rights of Texans under the law. If the Court [disagrees with the state], prudence dictates we reflect on precisely what the Court says, what it means, and how to proceed consistent with the rule of law.”

The Supreme Court’s decision is widely anticipated to come down tomorrow (Friday, June 26), the anniversary of the Lawrence and Windsor decisions. If not tomorrow, the decision will be handed down Monday, June 29.

For the record: Paxton has no real say in this, per state code. And legal experts have told Dallas Voice that public officials who defy a Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality can be held personally liable for doing so.

And while we’re on the subject of flouting the law, the state’s top law enforcement officer has admitted to and been fined for violating state securities law. He is now under investigation by a Collin County grand jury.

Laws be damned.

—  James Russell