Sunday, June 26, 2016

Remembering The Harris County Impact Of The Obergefell SCOTUS Ruling

One year ago the landmark Obergefell v Hodges case ruling was issued by the Supreme Court that made marriage equality legal in all 50 states despite the best efforts of right wing haters to enact marriage bans in many state constitutions.

It was a amazing day last year watching that history unfold as Nikki Araguz Loyd, Will Loyd, Ashton Woods, Brandon Mack, Ray Hill, Alene Levy and I sat in the office of attorney John Nechman and Mitchell Katine munching on Shipley's donuts, kolaches and sipping orange juice while await the landmark ruling that was about to drop at 9 AM our time.

When it did, I remember John looking stunned for a moment, and a wide smile subsequently breaking over his face as he announced to us that the SCOTUS had sided with Obergefell.

Since the Araguz v Delgado trans marriage case was at the Texas Supreme Court level at the time, Nikki asked what that meant for her case, and was told that it meant that she was going to win it since the opposition had based their entire case on being a replay of Littleton v Prange.

That's when I realized that the Obergefell ruling was also going to positively affect the ability of trans people to get married.   I heard a few hours later about other cis-trans couples also getting married either on that day or getting their licenses so they could do so later.

After celebrating at Nechman's office, Nikki, Will and I decided to head over to the Harris County Courthouse to see if our Republican county clerk Stan Stanart was going to  let the marriages happen or would they would try some last ditch massive resistance to delay things.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) was already trying to lay the groundwork for him and other oppressive county clerks to do just that.  As we arrived at the Harris County Courthouse at 12:30 PM there were already six people in line waiting to get their marriage licenses and get married.

As Nikki and Will got in line to get their marriage license, I kicked into reporter mode and started tweeting and posting Facebook statuses on the drama that was beginning to unfold at the Harris County Courthouse as Stanart tried stalling tactic after stalling tactic designed to not issue marriage licenses to same gender couples.

The legal hammers started coming down around 1 PM from Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan (D) and one representing a couple who was at the head of the line waiting to get their license.

As we watched and waited for that legal drama to play out, Judge Kyle Carter (D) announced to the folks waiting in line that he would waive the usual 72 hour waiting period and marry coupes in his chambers.

At 2 PM Stanart capitulated and started issuing marriage licenses to the growing line of couples, and Nikki and Will got their license and renewed their vows in Judge Carter's chambers    I also got to witness a few friends in the community like Daniel Williams and his spouse Jason do the same thing before departing for home.

That June 26 day was not only one for the history books, it was one in which I found myself in the interesting position of being able to watch how it unfolded in Harris County.

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