Texas Supreme Court blocks further gay marriages after lesbians wed

The Texas Supreme Court has issued an emergency order blocking same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses, just hours after a county judge issued a one-time order to allow a lesbian couple to marry because one of the women is suffering from a potentially life-threatening illness.

"The Texas Supreme Court has granted a stay of two trial court rulings that Texas' constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages violates constitutional protections to equal protection and due process of law," the court said in a news release after the ruling was issued, responding to an emergency motion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Thursday's ruling by the state's highest court did not address the validity of the marriage of Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, as their marriage license was issued by a county clerk under a court order and was then used before the Texas Supreme Court had a chance to act on it.

"The Court's action upholds our state constitution and stays these rulings by activist judges in Travis County. The same-sex marriage license issued by the Travis County Clerk is void, just as any license issued in violation of state law would be," Paxton argued in a statement. "I will continue to defend the will of the people of Texas, who have defined marriage as between one man and one woman, against any judicial activism or overreach."

Thursday's events followed an application from Goodfriend and Bryant in Travis County District Court to receive a temporary restraining that would allow them to marry. The couple cited various reasons for their request, most notably because Goodfriend has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and may not have the time to wait for the outcome of further court proceedings.

Last year, a federal judge declared the state's ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional, but left the ban in place while appeals are considered. County Judge David Wahlberg ruled in favor of the request, however, ordering Travis County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir to immediately stop enforcing prohibitions against same-sex marriages in the case of Goodfriend and Bryant.

"Given the time urgency, and the other circumstances in this case, and the ongoing violations of Plaintiffs' constitutional rights, the Court has concluded that good cause exists to allow filing of the pleadings in this matter in paper form," Judge Wahlberg said in Thursday morning's ruling.

Travis County Clerk spokeswoman Ginny Ballard said earlier that County Clerk Debeauvoir would comply with the judge's order, and the couple was able to get married soon after the ruling, making it the state's first ever legal same-sex marriage. Ballard noted that the judge's order only applied to the couple in Austin and would not have allowed any other same-sex couples to get married.

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