Two women made history Thursday morning as the first same-sex couple legally married in Texas, even though the state's ban on such unions is still technically in force.
Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend were married Thursday morning just outside the Travis County courthouse after a state judge ordered the county clerk to issue a license to the women.
"It's very exciting," Bryant told the Austin-American Statesman before the wedding. "My little one was worried about missing her history class. I said we’ll be making history."
Responding to a request from the couple's lawyer, State District Judge David Wahlberg pointed to Goodfriend's ovarian cancer "and the ongoing violation of plaintiffs' rights, [as reasons] the court has concluded that good cause exists" to allow the couple to marry.
Walhberg's order also instructed Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvior to waive the required 72-hour waiting period between applying for a license and obtaining one. Wahlberg's order applies only to Bryant and Goodfriend — meaning other same-sex couples in Texas cannot obtain marriage licenses at this time.
The women, together for more than 30 years, obtained a marriage license just after 9:25 a.m. Thursday, minutes after Judge Wahlberg's order arrived at the courthouse, according to the Statesman. Fearful that state officials would attempt to intervene and delay their nuptials, the couple hurried outside for a ceremony in front of the courthouse's sign, with their teenage daughters proudly at their sides. After Rabbi Kerry Baker finished officiating the ceremony, the couple went back inside the courthouse — where they had been denied a marriage license eight years earlier — and were issued a license.
The historic moment comes just days after a different judge in Travis County, which includes the state capital of Austin, struck down Texas's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. The decision came after an hour-long hearing in a court case concerning the estate of Stella Powell, who died last year. Her female partner, Sonemaly Phrasavath, sought to have their relationship recognized as a common-law marriage — one step in her efforts to establish a claim to her late wife's estate after Powell's siblings sought conservatorship. The state is seeking to block the ruling.
Meanwhile, a federal challenge to Texas's marriage ban — which saw a pro-equality ruling from U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in February 2014 — was heard at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in January. While initial assessments of the hearing were cautiously optimistic that the court would rule for equality, a decision could be handed down at any time.
See the moment the couple learned they would be getting married below, in a video from the Statesman: