First same-sex couple issued marriage license in Smith County - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

First same-sex couple issued marriage license in Smith County

(Source: KLTV staff) (Source: KLTV staff)
(Source: KLTV staff) (Source: KLTV staff)
(Source: KLTV staff) (Source: KLTV staff)
(Source: KLTV staff) (Source: KLTV staff)
SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas same-sex couple became the first in Smith County to be issued a marriage license on Monday morning.

About 8:00 a.m., a couple showed up seeking a marriage license at the Smith County courthouse. Karen Wilkerson and her fiance Jolie Smith began the process to obtain their marriage license shortly after 9:00 a.m. and were issued the document about 9:20 a.m. The couple was the first to show up at the courthouse office.

"It makes us feel really special, and this is something we've waited for and dreamed of as little girls," Smith said.

The license was issued following a Friday Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states. 

The Vital Statistics Department was open by 9:15 a.m. after a staff meeting, which included a teleconference with its software vendor, County Clerk Karen Phillips said. A sign posted in the courthouse said the department was also testing the system to accommodate new forms. 

Wilkerson and Smith filed a lawsuit Friday after Smith County did not issue a license due to a change needed on the license form. On Monday after receiving the license, Wilkerson said the lawsuit would be dropped; "I think the lawsuit becomes moot because the county clerk under the law fulfilled her duties, so we're not going to seek additional damages she's fulfilled our primary goal."

7OnScene: Counties prepare to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Smith County Clerk Karen Phillips said the state changed the vital statistic form needed to issue the licenses. On Friday, the State of Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics had not distributed any new forms for same-sex marriage license applications. All County Clerks are only custodians of records and, by law, are not allowed to alter state forms. The forms were updated Friday night, but those forms had issues the state felt needed to be readdressed, Phillips said. This morning, the newly corrected Formal Marriage License Form VS-180 was placed in Smith County's computer system.

On Friday, officials said the county was essentially in limbo due to the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics form from the Department of State Health Services. The form formerly read "man" and "woman."The Informal Marriage Licenses Application Form VS-180.1 is still being revised. The state will notify county clerks as soon as the Informal Marriage License form has been updated.

In Gregg County, staff members showed up early Monday prepared to handle marriage license applicants but not applicants had arrived as of 8:50 a.m.

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