McLennan County to begin issuing same-sex licenses; Other area c - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

McLennan County to begin issuing same-sex licenses; Other area counties to wait

The McLennan County Clerk says they will begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses Friday following the Supreme Court ruling. They won't wait for new forms.

Bell County officials have said they will wait for guidance from the attorney general on how to proceed. Bell County Clerk Shelley Coston released the following statement Friday:

"In regards to the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, the Bell County Clerk's Office is awaiting direction from our legal counsel, the Department of State Health Service – Vital Statistics Unit and the Texas Attorney General before issuing such marriage licenses. Our office will continue present operations until directives are received by the State.  We are expecting further information later today, June 26, 2015."

Other counties in the area that are also waiting for clarification and direction from the Texas Attorney General include: Coryell, Milam, Mills, Lampasas, Burnet, Williamson, Falls, Bosque, Hill, Robertson, Limestone, Navarro, Freestone, Leon, Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, and Madison County. 

Brazos County told News Channel 25 they are sending couples to Dallas County and Travis County because they are not issuing same-sex marriage licenses at this time. 

News Channel 25 could not reach anyone at the San Saba County Clerk's office. Hamilton County said they are still deciding what their next step will be. 


By The Associated Press

4:10 p.m.

Gov. Greg Abbott's office says the governor's directive that ordered state agencies not to reprimand those who deny benefits to gay couples does not condone discrimination.

Abbott spokesman John Wittman says the order issued earlier Friday does not authorize state agencies to deny benefits to same-sex couples. He says it only ensures that people doing business with the state cannot be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.

However, no revisions were made to the memo, which ordered state agencies not to punish employees who refuse to take official actions in violation of their "sincerely held religious beliefs" on marriage. The memo said that included "any agency decision, including but not limited to granting or denying benefits, managing agency employees, entering or enforcing agency contracts, licensing and permitting decisions, or enforcing state laws and regulations."

3:35 p.m.

Harris County, the most populous in Texas, has issued its first same-sex marriage licenses.

The first same-sex couple to receive a license at the county clerk's office in Houston Friday afternoon was Harris County employee Rachael Tobor and Valerie Turner, a vice president at the Morgan Stanley brokerage house.

The two were among at least 15 same-sex couples waiting in line to obtain marriage licenses after the ruling.

Calling Friday's Supreme Court ruling "monumental," Turner said she never expected complete marriage equality in Texas to happen in her lifetime.

The couple said they were legally married in 2009 in Connecticut but are now looking forward to getting married in their home county in front of friends and family sometime in the next 90 days.

2:30 p.m.

Gov. Greg Abbott's office is clarifying a directive to state agencies demanding that they preserve religious liberties, saying the order doesn't mean they're allowed to discriminate against gay employees.

In a memo Friday, the Republican said the government shouldn't pressure people to violate their "sincerely held religious beliefs" on marriage. It applies to "any agency decision," including denying benefits to gay couples, enforcing agency contracts, state laws and other matters.

That appeared to indicate that state agencies could deny things like retirement benefits to employees in same-sex couples.

But Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch later said that the directive doesn't allow agencies to discriminate, which would have violated federal and state law.

The governor's memo didn't stop county clerks in many parts of the state who had already begun issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

1:45 p.m.

A gay Dallas couple together for 15 years has gotten married after putting up a sign at their business saying why they hoped to be late for work.

Kenneth Denson and Gabriel Mendez tied the knot Friday afternoon, just hours after the U.S. Supreme court legalized same-sex marriage.

Denson and Mendez exchanged rings, joined hands and kissed following the ceremony. The newlyweds gave each other a high-five as Judge Tonya Parker signed their marriage certificate.

The pair, who wore matching T-shirts from their business, Red Pegasus Games & Comics, planned to grab some lunch and then head back to work.

A sign posted at the business Friday morning said the owners might be opening a little late "because we're waiting at the courthouse to see if the Supreme Court is going to let us get married."

12:35 p.m.

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a directive to all state agencies demanding they preserve Texans' religious liberties after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.

The Republican said his order on Friday applies to "any agency decision," including denying benefits to gay couples, enforcing agency contracts, state laws and other matters.

Abbott dismissed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling as "unelected" judges imposing their views on the country.

A short time later, he issued a memo saying that the government should not pressure people to violate their "sincerely held religious beliefs" on marriage.

County clerks in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and elsewhere had already begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples before Abbott's directive, and it appeared not to have any effect on them.

12:20 p.m.

A couple together for more than a half century are the first gays to wed in Dallas County.

Eighty-five-year-old Jack Evans and his 82-year-old partner George Harris received their marriage license on Friday, less than three hours after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage across the country. Within 15 minutes they were married in the Dallas County Records Building, wearing matching red ties.

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

They met 54 years ago at a party hosted by a mutual friend and had kept their relationship secret for the first 20 years. Eventually, they came out and last year celebrated their relationship with a ceremony at a Dallas church.

12:10 p.m.

The first same-sex couple in Bexar County to officially get their marriage license have exchanged vows.

Jon Truho and Larry Stern got married late Friday morning in San Antonio, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for gay marriage.

Judge Eugenia "Genie" Wright did the honors, advising the newlyweds: "Please stay married. Be nice to each other."

Truho and Stern exchanged rings as part of the ceremony.

11:40 a.m.

Harris County says it will issue gay marriage licenses even without guidance from the Texas attorney general.

County Clerk Stan Stanart said Friday his office has reviewed the Supreme Court ruling and decided it can proceed after it receives updated marriage forms. Earlier the clerk's office said it would not take any action before receiving guidance from the Attorney General Ken Paxton.

More than two hours after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, Paxton has not given directions on how clerks should proceed.

11:20 a.m.

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 preparing to seek marriage licenses.

Valdez says she wanted to help celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage. She says the ruling means gay couples "are recognized as equal in every possible way."

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

Valdez, who was in uniform, shook hands with some of the couples waiting in line to get their marriage licenses, offering congratulations. Her partner was not with her.

10:45 a.m.

Same-sex couples in Texas are beginning to obtain marriage licenses following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalizes gay marriage nationwide.

In Travis County, Gena Dawson and Charlotte Rutherford received the first same-sex marriage license within two hours of the ruling Friday morning. The license was issued despite the Supreme Court saying the ruling will not take effect until the losing side gets roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration.

Many other Texas counties were holding off until receiving guidance from the state, which fought to preserve a 2005 state constitutional ban on gay marriage. Houston is among the cities where county officials are awaiting guidance from the Texas attorney general.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has remained an emphatic opponent of gay marriage, even as signs in recent months pointed to the Supreme Court striking down state bans.

10:40 a.m.

Gov. Greg Abbott is vowing to keep defending traditional values, saying he's preparing a directive to state agencies "instructing them to prioritize the protection of Texans' religious liberties."

In a statement Friday, the Republican decried the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

Abbott said the court acted as "an unelected nine-member legislature" and that five justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage "have imposed on the entire county their personal views."

The decision overturns Texas' 2005 gay marriage ban, and major counties statewide were poised to begin issuing marriage licenses.

Attorney General Ken Paxton had asked county clerks and other officials to wait for his guidance before proceeding. But those instructions haven't been forthcoming.

Abbott, meanwhile, did not immediately provide details on what his directive will mean.

10:30 a.m.

Judges in Dallas County can waive the 72-hour waiting period between when marriage licenses are issued and ceremonies can be held as gay couples lined up Friday to wed.

Judge Ken Molberg, who's the administrative district judge for the county, said prior to Friday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage that judges would be available immediately for ceremonies.

Several couples were lined up at the Dallas County Records Building seeking marriage licenses, including Kenneth Denson and his partner, Gabriel Mendez. The couple, who've been together 15 years, wore matching gray T-shirts from their business, Red Pegasus Games & Comics, where they planned to return to work after getting married.

A sign posted at the business said the owners might be opening a little late Friday "because we're waiting at the courthouse to see if the Supreme Court is going to let us get married."

10:15 a.m.

Travis County says it will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalizes gay marriage nationwide.

Ron Morgan, the county's chief deputy district clerk, says his office will begin the process Friday morning. The licenses will be issued despite the Supreme Court saying the ruling will not take effect until the losing side gets roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration.

Many other Texas counties were holding off until receiving guidance from the state, which fought to preserve a 2005 state constitutional ban on gay marriage. Houston is among the cities where county officials are awaiting guidance from the Texas attorney general.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has remained an emphatic opponent of gay marriage, even as signs in recent months pointed to the Supreme Court striking down state bans.

10:08 a.m.

Even before the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick requested an opinion on gay marriage from the attorney general that would instruct county and local officials on how to proceed.

Patrick wrote Friday that a 2005 amendment to the state Constitution banned gay marriage. He said it was approved by 76 percent of voters - though turnout was very low in an off-year election.

The Republican said that because of the Supreme Court's ruling "county clerks and Justices of the Peace could be forced to subjugate their sincerely held religious beliefs," and warned that could spark political "conflict throughout our state."

Attorney General Ken Paxton late Thursday asked county clerks and justices of the peace not to issue immediate gay marriage licenses following a high court decision, but instead to wait for his instructions.

The attorney general has yet to issue such guidance, but instead in a Friday statement said the Supreme Court's ruling will be "a dilution of marriage as a societal institution."

10 a.m.

Harris County's court clerk is among many in Texas awaiting guidance from the Texas attorney general on whether it can issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

State leaders have criticized the ruling Friday by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalizes gay marriage across the country. But the high court says the ruling will not take effect until the losing side gets roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration.

Still, even while no action is being taken yet in Harris County, Houston Mayor Annise Parker praised the Supreme Court's ruling. Parker, a lesbian, called it a "joyous, historic day" that she didn't expect to see in her lifetime.

9:40 a.m.

Some same-sex couples in Texas kissed upon learning of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalizes gay marriage nationwide.

In Austin, Cindy Stocking and Guadalupe Garcia embraced and began kissing in the Travis County clerk's office after Friday's ruling. 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 to wed.

Couples in Dallas and San Antonio also cheered the decision as they waited at county offices.

The high court's ruling will not take effect immediately because justices are giving the losing side roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration. But some state officials and county clerks might decide there is little risk in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

9:15 a.m.

Same-sex couples in Texas may soon obtain marriage licenses following Friday's landmark

Several gay couples were present Friday morning at county clerk offices in Austin, San Antonio and Dallas hours before the decision. But some offices were planning to remain open longer to accommodate larger numbers in the afternoon.

Other counties were holding off until receiving guidance from the state, which fought to preserve a 2005 constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Houston is among the cities where county officials are awaiting guidance from the Texas attorney general.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has remained an emphatic opponent of gay marriage, even as signs in recent months pointed to the Supreme Court striking down state bans.

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