Love Wins: Houston Celebrates Same-Sex Marriage Ruling
Update, 3:30 p.m.: Rachael Tobor and Valerie Turner have become the first couple to officially get their certificate of marriage in Harris County. (edited) John LaRue and Hunter Middleton were first in line to get their license.
Within hours of today’s historic Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, Houstonians began showing up at the Harris County courthouse to express their support for the decision and obtain licenses. Earlier this morning, Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan sent a letter to County Clerk Stan Stanart instructing him to “immediately begin to issue marriage licenses to all qualified applicants without regard to gender.”
And while the forms for such licenses are not at present gender-neutral, that should present no barrier, Ryan said in the letter. “Until updated forms are supplied by the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics,” he wrote, “the present marriage license application may be used for all applicants.”
There was a security presence both inside and outside the courthouse this morning, as a group of about 20 interested parties, among them lawyers from the ACLU, gathered. According to multiple media accounts, John LaRue and Hunter Middleton were the first couple to try to get a license. As of noon, however, their request had not been granted, the couple having been told by the clerk’s office that it was still awaiting the proper forms. “It’s disappointing,” LaRue told Channel 13. “We’re the only major county in the state of Texas that’s dragging its heels on this.”
In response to the delay, Ryan called for a 2 p.m. press conference in which he requested a court order requiring the Harris County Clerk's office to immediately begin issuing licenses. As for the Clerk himself, Stanart said that he would begin issuing licenses at 3 p.m. regardless of whether he’d received new license forms by then, reported the Chronicle, although only until 4:30, his office’s regular closing time.
Outside the courthouse, the atmosphere throughout the day was celebratory, with members of a Houston group called Pop Vows vowing to marry same-sex couples if and when licenses were finally issued.