By Joe Reavis
Collin County was not the first in line, but its County Clerk’s office got its paperwork in order and started issuing same sex marriage licenses in response to the Supreme Court ruling that struck down discrimination based on sexual preference.
County Clerk Officer Manager Cece Leggieri reports that some same sex marriage licenses have been processed, but notes that the office is not keeping tabs on the number of licenses because they are not differentiating types of licenses.
The court issued its ruling Friday, June 26, officially barring state prohibitions against issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, and requiring that states recognize same sex marriages legally performed in other states.
Texas law does not permit or recognize same sex marriages and, thus, is directly affected by the court ruling, which has resulted in some differences in interpretation. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton personally opposes same sex marriage, and has cautioned county clerks against issuing the licenses, all the while indicating the clerks could be open to lawsuits.
Paxton also is pushing an argument that public officials do not have to follow the Supreme Court ruling if they can cite a legitimate religious reason for doing so.
Some counties, Dallas for an example, openly defied Paxton and began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples the day of the ruling.
Other Texas counties have cited inadequate forms as a reason for not issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples—the applications were printed to indicate male and female and clerks felt that altering the state documents could render them void.
The Collin County Clerk’s staff took care of that hiccup over the weekend.
“Our staff worked over the weekend to get our forms updated,” Leggieri said. “We were ready at 8 a.m. today (June 29).”
A state application form that indicated respondents as male and female is now worded “Applicant I” and “Applicant II,” and the couple’s names will be used on the actual wedding license issued by the clerk instead of the former “Bride” and “Groom.”
Potential mates must still wait 72 hours after taking out a wedding license before the marriage ceremony can be performed, unless that requirement is waived by a judge.
Justices of the peace, being elected officials, are subject to Supreme Court ruling if they perform weddings, but they do not have to perform weddings at all.
“I stopped performing weddings about a month ago, before the Supreme Court ruling,” Justice of the Peace Jerry Shaffer, Precinct 2, said. “I will not be doing any homosexual or heterosexual weddings.”
Shaffer noted that he has only performed about four weddings as a justice of the peace, so curtailing the service does not have much affect on couples.
He also pointed out that performing wedding ceremonies as a justice of the peace is not a requirement of the office.