Stay on Travis County marriage may continue until Supreme Court ruling

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Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend show off their marriage license

A spokesperson for the Texas Supreme Court said its stay on a same-sex marriage ban will likely be in place until a United State Supreme Court ruling this summer.

“Somebody is going to rule on this, and it’s the U.S. Supreme Court, definitively, in three months,” Osler McCarthy, staff attorney for public information at the Texas Supreme Court told The Daily Texan, the student newspaper of the university of Texas at Austin. “So what the court has done is say, ‘Stop. Nobody move.’”

Last Wednesday, Feb. 18, a Travis County probate judge ruled the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. Then last Thursday, Feb. 19, Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend received a one-time marriage license from Travis County Judge David Wahlberg, citing the probate judge’s decision.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, asked for an emergency stay, which was ultimately granted by the court. He also asked the court to overturn the couple’s marriage. But that doesn’t seem likely.

What remains to be seen is if the stay will be lifted pending a 5th Circuit decision on the state’s same-sex marriage ban, which could come any day now.

—  James Russell

Arkansas bans anti-discrimination laws; is Texas next?

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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, right, allowed legislation prohibiting cities and counties from enacting anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people to pass into law without his signature. Texas Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, left, has introduced a similar bill in the Texas Legislature.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday allowed legislation prohibiting cities and counties in his state from passing statutes and ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination to become law without his signature. The law, SB 202, goes into effect 90 days after the legislative session ends this summer.

Hutchinson said earlier this month that he had “reservations” about the legislation, but not enough to actually veto it. He chose instead to demonstrate those reservations by letting the bill become law without his signature. He did so despite what The Washington Post called mounting pressure from civil rights advocates nationwide.

A press release issued by a coalition of groups including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the ACLU declared, “There is nothing but discriminatory intent here. And no valid public interest can possibly be served by allowing private businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristics that might be covered by local ordinances.” Even Cher skewered Hutchinson in a Tweet, accusing him of “hanging [the] LGBT community out the dry.”

But before all you Texans start looking down your noses at those ridiculous rednecks in Arkansas, be warned: The same kind of bill has been in the Texas Legislature this session. Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas.

According to Equality Texas, “SB 343 would restrict the ability of local elected officials to pass or enforce ordinances, rules or regulations that are not identical to state protections, restricting local governments to only protecting the attributes covered under state law: race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.”

That means that ordinances in Fort Worth and Dallas and Houston and even in Plano that protect LGBT people from discrimination would be, in effect, rendered useless. Of course, it also means that ordinances in Houston, San Antonio and, again, Plano that protect U.S. military veterans from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations would also be effectively overturned. But hey, the vets have already sacrificed for their country one time; surely they’ll be willing to sacrifice their right not to be discriminated against to make sure all us evil LGBTs don’t get any protections. I mean, we are a huge threat to the American way of life, after all.

As I said, Huffines’ bill, if it becomes law, would nullify the amendment adding LGBT protections to the Dallas city charter, an amendment approved last November by 76 percent of Dallas voters. I guess overturning measures overwhelmingly approved by voters — you know, like the amendment to the Texas Constitution banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage, approved by 76 percent of Texas voters in 2005 — is ok as long as you are only overturning things that Republicans don’t like.

—  Tammye Nash

Equality Texas celebrates couple’s wedding, urges 5th Circuit to lift stay

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Suzanne Bryant, left, and Sarah Goodfriend with their Texas marriage license

Equality Texas has issued a statement on the marriage this morning in Travis County of Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, congratulating the couple, but noting that the Travis County Clerk issued the license only under court order, and that other same-sex couples are not able to get licenses in Travis County — or elsewhere in Texas — without a similar court order.

Equality Texas also called on the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the stay put on U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia’s February 2014 ruling striking down Texas’ ban on marriage equality. If the Fifth Circuit lifts the stay, that would clear the way for same-sex couples across Texas to begin getting their marriage licenses and having weddings.

Equality Texas’ statement read: “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. We urge the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to quickly issue a ruling affirming the freedom to marry for all loving couples in Texas.”

—  Tammye Nash

TEXAS MARRIAGE UPDATE: Equality Texas calls on DeBeauvoir to start issuing marriage licenses

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Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir

A day after a Travis County probate judge issued a ruling striking down Texas’ ban on legal recognition of same-sex marriages, Equality Texas today (Wednesday, Feb. 18) is calling on Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately.

But according to a spokeswoman in DeBeauvoir’s office, the county clerk will not issue those marriage licenses until she gets the go-ahead from the federal courts.

DeBeauvoir had previously said she was ready to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples as soon as the courts would allow. After Judge Guy Herman issued his ruling Tuesday, DeBeauvoir said she needed to meet with Herman and county lawyers to “find out if there is anything I can do [in terms of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples]. Right now, I think it’s no, but we are checking.”

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Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith

But Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said today that Herman’s ruling makes marriage equality the law in Travis County. “The law in Travis County now allows for marriage equality. Equality Texas calls upon the county clerk to stand with us — on the right side of history,” Smith said.

The written statement issued by Equality Texas also noted: “Just as the Supreme Court may issue a marriage ruling this summer that applies to all 50 states, and just as the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals may issue a marriage ruling any day now that applies to the 5th Circuit, Judge Herman has issued a ruling that has the effect of law in Travis County.”

The spokeswoman in DeBeauvoir’s office, who identified herself as Angela Vallejo, said today that “nothing has changed” since the county clerk’s statement yesterday. “We have to wait for the federal courts” to settle the question, she said. “As soon as they approve it, I am sure we will begin issuing the licenses.”

Getting a license in Travis County

If — or rather, let’s say when — DeBeauvoir’s office begins issuing licenses to same-sex couples, here are a few rules you need to know:

• The Travis County Clerk’s Office is located at 5501 Airport Blvd. in Austin.

• The cost to get a marriage license is $81 if you pay cash, $84 if you pay with a credit card. Checks are not accepted.

• Both parties have to present a valid ID; both parties have to know their Social Security numbers, and both parties must be at least 18 years old. (Those under 18 must have a parent or guardian with them to give permission.)

• Marriage licenses expire 90 days after they are issued.

• Those obtaining marriage licenses have to wait 72 hours to get married, unless they have a waiver from the court.

The status of marriage equality in the courts

Herman’s ruling came as part of an estate fight in which Austin resident Sonemaly Phrasavath is seeking to have her eight-year relationship to Stella Powell designated as a common-law marriage. Powell died last summer of colon cancer, and after her death, her siblings attempted to step in to claim her estate.

According to the Equality Texas statement issued today, Herman’s ruling finds “that the restrictions on marriage in the Texas Family Code and in the Texas Constitution that restrict marriage to the union of a man and a woman and prohibit marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional because the restrictions violate the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Contrary to [DeBeauvoir’s] position previously stated in the media, this ruling in fact allows her to immediately issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Travis County,” the statement declares.

“Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir previously stated she would be happy to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples once the law allows for it.” Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said.

Herman’s ruling yesterday came a year, to the month, after U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled in federal court that the Texas same-sex marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution. Garcia declined plaintiffs’ request late last year to lift the stay on that order and allow same-sex marriages to begin in Texas. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on that case and two others — one from Louisiana and one from Mississippi — on Jan. 9, and could rule in that case any day. Plaintiffs in the Texas case last week asked the Fifth Circuit to lift the stay allow gay and lesbian couples to begin marrying in Texas right away.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments on four marriage equality cases out of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in April, and to issue a ruling in June. The court is widely expected, as this time, to strike down all same-sex marriage bans in the U.S.

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

Texas won’t issue driver’s license to gay man because he’s married

Screen shot 2014-12-08 at 1.11.38 PMAccording to a report in the Des Moines Register, an Iowa gay couple who moved to an Austin suburb can’t get Texas drivers license because of their marriage.

Michael Miller Gribble changed his name on all legal documents after he and his husband married. When they moved to Texas, he brought his marriage license and birth certificate to apply for his new driver’s license. He was turned away because Texas won’t recognize a marriage license from a same-sex couple as proof of a name change.

He was told he could either get a divorce or a legal name change. Opposite-sex couples do not need a court-order to change last names. A marriage license is proof of the change.

The newspaper reports that couples from Iowa have had similar problems in Nebraska, Florida and South Dakota. Iowa has been a marriage-equality state since 2009.

Gribble applied for a passport that will reflect his new name. He can use that as proof of who he is rather than a marriage license and birth certificate.

He pointed out the extra cost and inconvenience involved and pointed out the unfair financial penalties of being gay or lesbian that goes against the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.

This isn’t the first time that the state of Texas has refused to issue a driver’s license because of a same-sex-marriage-related name change. It happened earlier this year to a lesbian who legally married her female partner in California and then moved with her wife to Texas. And in October, Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced on Twitter that the state refused to give her 16-year-old daughter a driver’s license because the girl’s birth certificate listed two moms.

—  David Taffet

Libby Willis campaign election night watch party

Posted on 06 Nov 2014 at 1:37pm
Democrat Libby Willis faced an uphill climb against Republican Sen.-elect Konni Burton in the race to succeed Democrat Wendy Davis of Fort Worth. But that did not stop a devoted group of supporters from attending her watch party at Mamma Mia, 3124 E Belknap, in Fort Worth. At 10:30 p.m., Willis conceded.

UPDATE: Texas statewide races

In Texas statewide races, Republicans are holding comfortable leads, in general.

In the big three races, Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn leads Democratic challenger David Alameel, 60 percent to 37 percent.

Republican Greg Abbott is ahead of Democrat Wendy Davis, 58 percent to 40 percent, in the race for governor, and with just 4 percent of the precincts statewide reporting, pundits are already calling the race for Abbott.

And in the contest for lieutenant governor, Republican Dan Patrick leads Democrat Letitcia Van de Putte, 57 percent to 40percent.

—  Tammye Nash

Where’s your fucking polling place?

vote-buttonIf you missed early voting, today’s your last chance to vote. Don’t know where to vote? YourFuckingPollingPlace.com will tell you where to go.

Just enter one simple piece of information. In the red box, enter “Your fucking address here.”

I put in my address and got the answer, “Esperanza Fucking Medrano Elem School, 2221 Lucas Dr., Dallas TX 75219.”

Exactly fucking right.

However, if the information’s wrong or you need to look up another address, you can try again.

“Look for your fucking polling place again? I apparently have nothing better to do than help your ass all fucking day,” the site politely tells you.

Just some helpful and fun advice from your friends at Dallas Voice. And despite what the moron Kimberly Guilfoyle on Fox News advised, get out and fucking vote.

—  David Taffet

Back to school: Tax-free weekend is upon us

taxholidayhres1_11571106Every year, the state of Texas does at least one thing right: it gives Texas shoppers a break from local and state sales taxes in preparation for the upcoming school year. Granted this means malls are packed, your two-year-old gives new meaning the “terrible twos” and single, childless folks like me quiver at thought of even stepping out into the world. But hey, were I not that guy I sure would take advantage of it.

So here’s the skinny:

According to State Comptroller Susan Combs’ webpage, there are two categories of items exempt from sales and use taxes: most school supplies and then other items like clothing. For the ladder category, think, “Could my kid wear this to school?” If in doubt, check out the list provided by Combs’ office here. If an Internet business is engaged in business in Texas, purchases meeting the state’s standards apply.

For every $100 purchase, shoppers save between $8-$10. Keep in mind that there’s some fine print you can’t ignore though. Items need to be below $100, but there is no limit on overall purchases. Read the fine print here.

Happy shopping, y’all.

—  James Russell

Abbott a no-show at petition drop

AG delivery2Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for Texas governor, was a no-show Monday when Equality Texas dropped off nearly 5,200 petitions demanding Gov. Rick Perry and Abbott drop their defense of the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

“Despite the plans prearranged last week in which a staff member would meet us in the lobby and take possession of the petitions, the Attorney General’s office said they would only accept the petitions if they were mailed via an acceptable ground carrier,” wrote Chuck Smith in an e-mail.

Instead of giving up, the group headed to the nearby UPS store and mailed them. They’re expected to arrive today.

The action comes after the Feb.26 ruling earlier this year finding Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. Despite growing support for same-sex marriage both in Texas and nationwide, Abbott and Perry appealed the ruling to the 5th Circuit of Appeals.

Abbott filed that appeal Monday, arguing that Texas was within its constitutional right to ban same-sex marriage.”Because same-sex relationships do not naturally produce children, recognizing same-sex marriage does not further these goals to the same extent that recognizing opposite-sex marriage does,” the brief reads. “That is enough to supply a rational basis for Texas’s marriage laws.”

Birds of a feather stick together.

—  James Russell