- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

The Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states reverberated across Texas on Friday, where many of the state’s counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Here are some scenes from around the state:



- Cindy Stocking and Guadalupe Garcia embraced and began kissing in the county clerk’s office after the ruling came down. Stocking had put her hand on her partner’s shoulder while constantly refreshing her phone for updates. They were first in line and were waiting for county attorneys to read the decision before getting their license.

- “I never thought this would happen in my lifetime,” said Jacque Roberts, who rushed into the clerk’s office with her partner of 31 years within minutes of the ruling. “It’s still a dream. I can’t believe we’re doing this in Texas.”



- Kenneth Denson, 38, and Gabriel Mendez, 33, had been together for 15 years. The two own a comic book store in Dallas, but delayed opening the business Friday morning as they waited to get a marriage license.

They left a sign at their store, Red Pegasus Games & Comics, for customers, saying: “We might be opening a little late today (6/26) because we’re waiting at the courthouse to see if the Supreme Court is going to let us get married. If so, we’ll get married real quick and be back midday. Love, Team Red Pegasus.”

The men were legally married in 2013 in California, but still wanted to get married in Texas.

“We’re Texans, we want to get married in Texas,” Denson said.

Wearing matching gray T-shirts from their business, Denson and Mendez exchanged rings and gave each other a high-five as Judge Tonya Parker signed their marriage certificate Friday afternoon.

They planned to each lunch and then head back to work.

- Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, the county’s first openly gay sheriff, stopped by the Dallas County Records Building on Friday morning to see the line of couples waiting for marriage licenses.

“I had to come up and see and celebrate,” said Valdez, who shook hands with some of the waiting couples. “Today we are recognized as equal in every possible way.”

Valdez said she has been with her girlfriend for two years and they both cried Friday morning when they heard the news. She said they have discussed marriage but do not have plans right now to wed.

- A gay couple who had been together for more than half a century were the first to be married in Dallas County. Jack Evans, 85, and his partner George Harris, 82, received the county’s first gay marriage license around 11:45 a.m. and within 15 minutes were wed.

“We waited a long time for this,” Harris said after the brief civil ceremony at the Dallas County Records Building, presided over by a Dallas judge who was a friend of the couple.

Evans and Harris had met 54 years ago at a party hosted by a mutual friend and had kept their relationship secret for the first 20 years.

“We met in ‘61, everything was underground,” Harris said. “It was a very scary period for us.”

“You couldn’t be open about anything,” he added.

Eventually, they came out and, last year, celebrated their relationship with a ceremony at a Dallas church.

“We had faith that someday it would happen,” Harris said.

Evans, who walks with a cane, had a rainbow gay pride flag tucked in his suit lapel, and Harris carried red roses as they left the ceremony.



- Outside the civil courthouse in downtown Houston, advocacy groups handed out flyers as another crowd gathered nearby with gay pride flags. One woman held up a sign reading, “Love is Love.”

Inside the courthouse, John LaRue and Hunter Middleton stood in suits at the front of the line to get their marriage licenses, expressing frustration that Harris County didn’t act as quickly as others, but thankful for the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“This has been expected for a while,” LaRue said. “It was just a matter of when, not if. And the day is here, so it’s a great day.”



- Within an hour of the ruling Jon Truho, 40, and Larry Stern, 52, were sitting in San Antonio’s marriage license office, wearing red shirts in support of marriage equality and waiting to become the first gay couple to be married in Bexar County. The couple married in California in 2001, but Stern, who has lived in Texas for 40 years, said the license here meant more.

“In Texas, we were just two guys because there was no reciprocity, and now it’s legal,” Stern said. “It’s very exciting to be married in my home state.”

Truho and Stern received their marriage license shortly after 11 a.m., when they left to find a judge after the 72-hour waiting period had been waived. Some 15 minutes later they said short vows before Judge Eugenia “Genie” Wright.

“I love you very much and thank you for being who you are,” Truho told Stern.

They then exchanged rings and a long kiss.

“Please stay married,” Wright told the newlyweds. “Be nice to each other.”

- Jordan and Donna Reed, a couple for 47 years, carried an envelope with them that contained the $81 needed to obtain a license. It had been sitting all week on the kitchen table as they waited for the Supreme Court decision.

“It’s going to feel better,” said Jordan Reed, 69.

Donna Reed, 67, said that years ago identifying as gay was taboo and could cause someone to be kicked out of college or lose a job.

“You couldn’t say I’m gay, I’m a lesbian,” she said. “But now you can get married.”

- It was a family affair for sisters Kristen and Nicole Saunders, who came to the marriage license office together with their respective female partners.

Nicole Saunders, 37, is pregnant, and she and her partner, Ana Rosas, are awaiting the birth of a baby girl.

Kristin Saunders, 41, said she was happy her sister’s partner would not be denied the right to be in the waiting room during the baby’s birth, as happened to her own partner eight years ago when her son was born. Neither couple had been married in any other state.

“There are two things I can’t wait to do: check ‘married,’ and to say, ‘This is my wife’ and not ‘my partner,’” said Kristin Saunders.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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