DALLAS (AP) - 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.
Lt. Gov Patrick requests opinion
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."