Area county clerks on Friday were waiting on direction from state legal authorities ons issuing gay marriage application when at least one of them ran into conflict.
"So, just to be clear, you're refusing to grant my 14th Amendment rights," Patrick Franklin of Longview told Gregg County Clerk Connie Wade on Friday afternoon, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states cannot stop same-sex couples from marrying.
"I don't have anything yet from the state of Texas that allows me to do this," Wade told Franklin and his partner, who arrived at the Longview courthouse shortly before 2 p.m. with witness Juneau Embrey.
Wade had been telling Franklin and his 16-year partner, Sailor Smith, that she lacked an application that was gender neutral.
Wade earlier said she was wary of running afoul of laws that make altering government documents a felony if she simply marked out either of the application headings for male and female marriage applicants.
She said the same roadblock occurs on the parchment wedding certificates her office issues.
Franklin next asked Wade for a formal rejection of his request, for which the clerk also said she lacked paperwork.
"You're refusing me the decency of a formal refusal — I just want to be clear," Franklin said, lightly slapping his palm on the counter as the trio turned to leave. "Wrong side of history. Thanks."
Wade immediately went to inform District Attorney Carl Dorrough of the confrontation.
Franklin, meanwhile, said in the hallway he would consider taking legal action against the county.
"It's under consideration," he said. "I can easily go to Dallas and get a license. But, it means a lot to me to do this in the county that's been my home since I was a small child."
Wade had speculated that her counterparts in Dallas, Bexar and Travis counties, where they were reported to be issuing marriage applications to gay couples, were marking out the gender designations on applications.
"The attorney general is still asking for us to wait for direction and clarity," she said before Franklin and Smith arrived. "I'm just going to do business under the state law as it's defined for married couples."
She added that, to her understanding, parties before the Supreme Court have three weeks to ask for a re-hearing after a ruling.
"The other point about this is, there is software involved," Wade said. "Our software vendor is going to have to re-configure (the forms) when we select anther option to be used."
In the wake of Friday's decision in Washington, D.C., county clerks in Upshur and Harrison counties also said much the same as Wade. They were waiting for reliable instruction from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The Republican Paxton, anticipating the ruling, on Thursday had recommended county clerks and justices of the peace wait for his office to give them direction if the high court ruled against the state.
"We're waiting on the attorney general," Harrison County Clerk Patsy Cox said. "We're waiting on the attorney general's office to give us instructions on how to proceed with this. ... If they want to get married today, Monday, they are going to have to find another county that has decided to do this. Because the attorney general's office told us to wait."
She said her personal feelings on the issue of gay marriage are secondary to the duty she accepted in seeking elective office.
"I'd rather not say my personal feelings on this," she said. "I took an oath to abide by the state laws and the U.S. Constitution. And I'm waiting on the attorney general's office to let me know how to proceed on this. And if I don't like it, I can leave."
Mallory Waugh, a Marshall resident, said she and fiance Brandi Brown were just happy they soon will be able to wed in Longview.
Waugh said the couple had planned to marry in another state in January after she proposed to Brown in November 2014.
"I'm hoping by January, they figure out what they are going to do, because we're getting married in Texas — right there in Longview, actually," Waugh said. "At that point, we had no idea we would be here, knowing it could be legal (in Texas), which means the world to us. ... I know it will take the state a while to figure out how they are going to do that."
Upshur County Clerk Terri Ross, like the other elected clerks, said she took an oath and would uphold Texas law — as soon as she gets an application for same-sex wedlock.
"That's what we're waiting on, is the revised application from the state," she said, adding that her marriage licenses are gender neutral, unlike those in Gregg County. "It's the application we have to send to the state. On our application — and it's all the same across the state of Texas — it has a woman and a man on the application form."
By midmorning Friday, neither Ross nor Cox had encountered gay people seeking marriage applications.
Rusk County Clerk Joyce Lewis-Kugle was not in her office Friday, a deputy clerk said.
Meanwhile, Gregg County Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace B.H. Jameson said he would have to make up his mind whether to continue marrying anyone. Jameson's court in the Gregg County Courthouse has been a popular destination for heterosexual couples tying the knot for decades.
"The law in the Family Code says, 'may,' but it doesn't say, 'shall.' So it will be up to the individual magistrate whether they'll do it," Jameson said. "If I do one, I have to do all — I can't select. ... My stance is, right now I'm reviewing my stance. I have friends in that (gay) community, and they get treated fairly in my court now. But this issue — I may have to disqualify (myself)."
And Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt said Friday he will wait to see how the situation plays out before making a decision on whether to perform marriages.
"We'll wait till the entire sequence of events has taken place," Stoudt said. "We took an oath, and we're elected to uphold the Constitution of the United States."