McLennan County has begun granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the country.
Several couples celebrated the historical decision by becoming some of the first in the county to pick up and apply for a marriage license. Dozens of people showed up to Heritage Square in Waco for InterWaco's "Love Wins" celebration. InterWaco is a social networking and advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer individuals and their allies in McLennan and surrounding counties.
Angelica Ponce and her fiancé, Jennifer Lipsey, say they have been waiting for this day, for years.
“We're very excited. We're happy. It's official so we've been waiting for this day for a while,” says Ponce. “We've been together almost five years so it's been a long time coming.”
Couples didn't waste any time getting down to the county clerks office after the Supreme Court's landmark decision.
"We were surprised and excited and we wanted to be one of the first ones up here,” says Ponce. “We got dressed as quickly as possible, called into work and came down here.”
Years of marriage inequality were erased as couples signed on the dotted line. With their licenses in hand, couples like Shawn Millsap and Tatiana Gilbert say they're headed down the aisle as fast as they can.
"We've been waiting long enough, we don't want to wait anymore,” says Gilbert. “She says they're looking forward to what comes next.
"I can add her on my insurance at work. If I get sick or she gets sick we can visit each other, we can have babies; I can sign the birth certificate [and] we can adopt together," says Millsap.
“We can pretty much do anything our parents do,” says Gilbert. “Everything they complain about we get to because we're legal now… we're just two people who love each other.”
LGBT couples and advocates like Carmen Saenz say marriage equality is about legally recognizing their relationships.
"The federal benefits and state benefits that we now get and our marriages will be as respected as straight marriages, and our marriages will carry the same legal weight as straight marriages,” says Saenz.
“It's a good feeling to know that we're just like everybody else and people are recognizing that finally,” says Ponce.
While the fight for marriage equality is over, LGBT activists say they're still working for full federal equality.
"It's a wonderful first step, but it's a first step because the non discrimination ordinances need to follow the marriage equality,” says Saenz. “What's happened historically in some other places, is your employers or your landlord find out you got married or they find out that you're gay or lesbian and then you get evicted or fired. So for us it kind of opens the door to working on full federal equality."