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The Brief: Feb. 20, 2015

An Austin lesbian couple obtained a marriage license Thursday morning, but the status of what would be the state's first gay marriage was in flux by the afternoon after the Texas Supreme Court issued a stay.

Sarah Goodfriend, second from left, and Suzanne Bryant, center, with their daughters (far left and far right) and Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, second from right. DeBeauvoir issued Goodfriend and Bryant a marriage license on Feb. 19, 2015.

The Big Conversation

An Austin lesbian couple obtained a marriage license Thursday morning, but the status of what would be the state's first gay marriage was in flux by the afternoon after the Texas Supreme Court issued a stay at the request of Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The license was issued in response to a ruling by a Travis County district judge. The couple, Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, have been partners for more than 30 years and have two daughters together. Last year, Goodfriend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a medical hardship acknowledged by the judge in making his order.

But as the day ended, the question remains: Are they or aren't they married? The Tribune's Alexa Ura has the rundown:

Paxton said the Supreme Court's action voided the couple's marriage license, "just as any license issued in violation of state law would be." But (Travis County Clerk Dana) DeBeauvoir said she had every reason to believe that the license her office issued is still valid. And Chuck Herring, the couple's attorney, said the Supreme Court action had no effect on their marriage. Herring also criticized Paxton's intentions to invalidate the license.

"They’re already married," Herring said. "It's cold-hearted, mean-spirited and unseemly to try to do that to an ovarian cancer victim and her family."

Meanwhile, a challenge to Texas' ban on same-sex marriage remains before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, where a ruling could be issued in the next few months. The U.S. Supreme Court is also scheduled to hear arguments on the constitutionality of gay marriages later this year.

The Day Ahead

•    House budget subcommittees on Article III (E1.030) and Articles VI, VII & VIII (JHR 100) meet at 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., respectively.

•    Senate Finance meets at 9 a.m. (E1.036) to take up Article VI matters.

•    TexPIRG hosts a press conference and roundtable discussion with Congressmen John Sarbanes, D-Md., and Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, on the issue of money in politics. The 10:30 a.m. event will be held at the LBJ School of Public Affairs Lobby in Austin.

Trib Must-Reads

Lawmakers: Toying With DHS Funding a Risky Game, by Julián Aguilar

Legislation Would Let Tesla Sell in Texas, by Jim Malewitz

Coleman Aims to Modify "Stand Your Ground" Law, by Eva Hershaw

State Exams Once Again Target of Texas Lawmakers, by Morgan Smith

Doctors: To Fix Medicaid, Increase Payouts, by Edgar Walters

State of Texas Salary Data Updated, by Ryan Murphy and Daniel Craigmile

Campaign Finance Database Updated with 2014 Data, by Daniel Craigmile


Sources: 3 candidates in running to follow Bill Powers as UT president, Austin American-Statesman 

Analysis: Tea party push led to longer Guard deployment on Texas border, The Dallas Morning News

Committee dismisses complaint against Judge Edith Jones, Houston Chronicle

Health official changes stance, wants lawmakers’ take on hospital plans, Austin American-Statesman

How Big a Deal Would It Be If Red States Lost Their Obamacare Subsidies?, Mother Jones

An American Sniper, His Killer, and Deep Scars Bared for a Jury, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“My little one was worried about missing her history class. I said we’ll be making history.”

— Suzanne Bryant, who along with Sarah Goodfriend on Thursday received the first gay marriage license in Texas history

Today in TribTalk

After judge's ruling, lives left in limbo, by Jacqueline L. Watson

News From Home

As we follow bills on immigration and border-related issues during the 84th legislative session, we'll keep you updated on legislation addressing border security operations. Stay caught up on the session with our Texas Legislative Guide.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Immigration: The Next Five Years on Feb. 27 at at the University of Texas at Brownsville

•    A Conversation With State Sen. Kel Seliger and State Rep. John Zerwas on March 5 at the Austin Club

•    Meet the Mayors: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price on March 12 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With UT-Austin Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston on March 26 at The Austin Club

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Health care Politics Public education Garnet Coleman Ken Paxton