Marriage equality comes to Erath County

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By JESSIE HORTON
TheFlashToday.com NEWS & SPORTS – FREE & LOCAL

ERATH COUNTY (July 1, 2015) — Friday, June 26, the Supreme Court ruled to allow same-sex couples the same marriage rights as straight couples throughout the country. Now, Erath County Clerk Gwinda Jones says her office is officially issuing marriage licenses to everyone.

“On Friday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a fundamental right afforded to couples of both the same and opposite sex. A fundamental right protected by the fourteenth amendment. My personal beliefs differ from the Supreme Court decision, but I cannot violate federal or state law or my oath of office because of my personal beliefs,” Jones said in an exclusive statement to The Flash on Wednesday. “When I took office I swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the constitution, and the laws of the United States and this state. I have always served to the best of my ability, therefore, as required by law, my office will issue same sex marriage license. As of today, our software has been updated and we can legally issue all marriage licenses.”

Hours after the ruling was handed down people interested in information were frustrated with the response from Erath County offices. Several same-sex couples expressed interest in getting married in Erath County, calling for information and not getting what they were looking for.

Brittany Williams, who is from Stephenville but now lives in a different county, said she was very interested in being able to get married in her hometown and called the county clerk’s office the Friday of the ruling to get details. She said her brother, Seth Williams, and his partner are hoping to become one of the first Erath County couples tying the knot in coming weeks.

“I was thrilled with the news and called right away to find out how we go about it, and no one knew much. I don’t know why, but the clerk wasn’t there that day and no one had any answers,” she said Tuesday. “When I called again this week, she (Jones) wasn’t available and I had to leave my name and number. I haven’t heard back, yet.”

The Flash has discovered that at the time, Jones and other officials were in meetings and could not be reached. Since that time, Jones and her staff have worked to return a number of calls as well as answering new calls coming in. She said Wednesday afternoon that after two days in court and meetings, her office has received the last software update and last updated form and can now issue marriage licenses to everyone wishing to apply.

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As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the county clerk’s office has not  had anyone come in and actually apply, but Jones did say she and her staff had been answering lots of questions about the ruling. She said everyone in her office will be able to issue the licenses. However, that does not mean a couple is married.

“Just like with anyone, in the state of Texas there is at least a 72-hour waiting period known as the ‘cooling off period’ when couples who have been issued marriage licenses have to wait to be married. The person marrying you should know this and it says it on the license,” Jones said. “Anyone wishing to apply simply needs to bring in their proof of age and identity, usually a Texas driver’s license works best.”

Any eligible couple wishing to apply for a marriage license can do so beginning at 4 p.m. on Wednesday and all day Thursday. Jones said her office would be closed on Friday for the Fourth of July holiday and would open again for regular business hours on Monday.


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