First Smith County same-sex marriage certificate completed

Published on Monday, 29 June 2015 11:18 - Written by BY ADAM RUSSELL, arussell@tylerpaper.com

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(UPDATED June 29, 2015 at 11:09 am CT) The Smith County Clerk’s office issued its first marriage certificate to a same sex couple Monday morning.

A Supreme Court ruling Friday morning made same sex marriage was legal in all 50 states.

Jolie Smith and D. Karen Wilkerson arrived at the clerk’s office at 8 a.m. today to find a sign saying the vital statistic staff was meeting to go over new forms issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services Vital Statistics Unit and test-run them in the system.

An hour-and-a-half later, the couple signed their marriage certificate and raised their right hands to declare their marriage by oath.

“I didn’t want to get too excited and then be sad,” she said. “But I am finally excited. It still isn’t real.”

The state agency issued new forms after 5 p.m. Friday. Smith County Clerk Karen Phillips had said Friday she would follow the law but that she would not issue licenses to same sex couples until she had new state-issued forms.

On Sunday, Paxton released a statement that in his legal opinion county clerks and justices of the peace and their staffs had the right to refuse participating in same sex marriages if it was against their religious beliefs. Paxton noted offices that did not follow the Supreme Court’s ruling would likely face litigation but that his office would support those officials.

Ms. Wilkerson said lawyers around the state are preparing to file grievances against Paxton for his behavior following the ruling. She said Paxton engaged in purposeful actions to try and spoil the day for lesbian, gay and transgender Texans.

She had hoped to celebrate her wedding anniversary on the same day the landmark ruling by the court gave her the right to marry.

The couple has a District Court judge in Cherokee County who is willing to waive the 72-hour waiting period to be married and a priest on standby for the ceremony.

“I’m overjoyed but the activist in me knows it won’t be over until we’ve gained equal protection under the Constitution, whether it’s on the job or housing discrimination for couples and individuals,” she said. “But I am grateful that after a lifetime I can get married to the person I love.”