When I came to Dallas in 2011, I didn’t think a transgender person could marry anyone — of either sex. It seemed that no matter whom we loved, it was considered a same-sex marriage, and thus taboo. (See the cluster f-ck that the Nikki Araguz case became.)
I have always been attracted to women. Although my outside presentation has undergone a profound change and my legal documents have been updated, my inner feelings have been consistent with regard to identity and attraction. But for those who would hang labels, they would insist that when I transitioned, I went to bed a heterosexual male and woke up a lesbian.
Wait. It gets better.
I fell in love with Katie, my soon-to-be wife, in 2013. Katie was born in Texas and before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling on marriage equality, Texas wouldn’t re-issue a birth certificate, like California would, for transgender residents who have had a name and gender marker change.
Although our love for one another was no less real or passionate than that of any heterosexual couple, the possibility of us one day getting married was just not in the cards in pre-Obergefell Texas.
To illustrate just how silly things were, I joked one day that we should go down to the Dallas County Clerk’s office and apply for a marriage license using my California birth certificate, which says I was born female, and Katie’s original Texas birth certificate that still said “male,” and they would have to issue us a marriage license!
So, since we were both born male, would that make it a gay marriage? Or since we both are legally and physically female, is it a lesbian marriage? Or because of the difference in birth certificate laws, would it have been a heterosexual marriage?
Instead, we waited. It took a while, but on June 26, 2015, The U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land. And later this summer, Katie and I will say, “I do.”
It makes me sad that — given the current make-up of the Supreme Court, the retirement of Justice Kennedy (who wrote the tear-inducing majority opinion in the Obergefell v. Hodges case) and the likely confirmation of a new ultra-conservative justice — if there were a challenge to marriage equality (or a slew of other LGBT issues from access to healthcare to employment rights) it would likely be 5-4 decision, with us on the short end of the stick, regardless of how sound the argument.
While there is no case working its way to the high court that would potentially overturn Obergefell, if the religious right has their way, such a case could be in the offing, not long after their No. 1 target: Roe v. Wade.
Rather than abolish same sex marriage, it seems more likely that opponents will try to weaken it. In June 2017, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage does not fully address the right to marriage benefits. SCOTUS announced it would not hear an appeal of that case, which centers on Houston’s policy to provide spouses of gay and lesbian employees the same government-subsidized marriage benefits it provides to opposite-sex spouses.
You know, because some things are a little more equal than others, right?
So that brings us to today, as Katie and I walked into the 21st-floor office of the Dallas County Clerk’s Office to get our marriage license.
It bears mentioning that Dallas County Clerk John Warren has been supportive from the beginning, even acting in defiance of accused felon and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton who advised county clerks to wait before issuing licenses immediately following the Obergefell ruling.
The marriage license application is non-gendered, asking for the names of Applicant One and Applicant Two, rather than Bride and Groom.
The clerk on duty was welcoming and did her job efficiently and with a smile. She seemed to share in our joy. We were made to feel welcome and she treated us like any other couple.
Thank you John Warren for your leadership.
I don’t feel like our marriage is any different than anyone else’s. It’s no better and it’s no worse. We are both adults, and our reasons for getting married are sound: We love each other dearly.
We don’t feel like our small ceremony will threaten the foundation of “traditional marriage.” Our union will jeopardize the rights of no one.
Katie and I loving one another is not a crime against the state (though until the Supreme Court’s 2004 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas it was considered to be).
So for now anyway, we can get married in our home in Dallas County. I didn’t think I’d see the day. We follow in the footsteps of George Harris and Jack Evans, the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Dallas County back in June 2015.
These words from Justice Kennedy say it perfectly:
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage.
“Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
At least, it does for now.
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.