On Wednesday, a lawyer for an Austin-based couple, Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, filed a petition with Travis County District Judge David Wahlberg, asking that he restrain the Travis County Clerk’s Office from implementing current state law with regard to same-sex marriage in their case.
On Thursday morning, they were informed that the judge had issued a temporary restraining order against Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir in this regard. “This court order that I received says that I should cease and desist following the unconstitutional law and issue this couple a marriage license immediately,” DeBeauvoir said.
Goodfriend said that after hearing the good news, they quickly called their rabbi and asked him to perform a marriage ceremony in front of the clerk’s office. “This is just the most blessed day, Suzanne and I have been together over 30 years, we’ve had a wonderful relationship and the ability to celebrate that, this is probably the happiest day of my life,” Goodfriend said joyfully.
DeBeauvoir said she could not issue another marriage license to a same-sex couple without a court order.
Judge Wahlberg’s order was based on two things: First, a previous order from another Travis County judge on Tuesday, which had labeled the state ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and second, the fact that Goodfriend, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last May, is undergoing extensive treatment for the same.
Goodfriend, meanwhile, was asked by reporters why the couple did not choose to marry in another state if there was a concern about her health. Her answer was simple and heartfelt — Texas was home. “You know, I grew up in Austin, and I feel like we’ve lived here, we’ve worked here, we’ve raised our kids here and we’re probably going to die here and we want to be married in Texas. We’re Texans,” said Goodfriend.
Following a request from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the Texas Supreme Court has issued an emergency stay of the judge’s decision. There are conflicting reports on whether the court’s order invalidates the couple’s marriage or puts it on hold while the state Supreme Court decides whether or not the Judge Wahlberg’s actions were legal and just.
According to the couple’s lawyer Chuck Herring, “It is a legal, valid marriage, and the stay does not affect today’s ceremony.” All eyes will now be on the Texas Supreme Court. The Attorney General's office says they are seeking to prevent any other couples from heading down this same path and will seek to void Goodfriend and Bryant's marriage. For now though, Goodfriend and Bryant watched by their two young daughters and a group of friends, plan to celebrate making history.