Same-sex couples begin obtaining marriage licenses in Texas

George Harris, left, 82, walks out of the Dallas County Clerks office showing his marriage license as his husband Jack Evans, holding roses, 85, follows behind Friday, June 26, 2015, in Dallas. Harris and Evans were the first same sex couple to be married in Dallas after receiving their license. The couple have been together 54 years.

George Harris, left, 82, walks out of the Dallas County Clerks office showing his marriage license as his husband Jack Evans, holding roses, 85, follows behind Friday, June 26, 2015, in Dallas. Harris and Evans were the first same sex couple to be married in Dallas after receiving their license. The couple have been together 54 years. Tony Gutierrez, AP

George Harris, left, 82, walks out of the Dallas County Clerks office showing his marriage license as his husband Jack Evans, holding roses, 85, follows behind Friday, June 26, 2015, in Dallas. Harris and Evans were the first same sex couple to be married in Dallas after receiving their license. The couple have been together 54 years.Tony Gutierrez, AP

George Harris, left, 82, walks out of the Dallas County Clerks office showing his marriage license as his husband Jack Evans, holding roses, 85, follows behind Friday, June 26, 2015, in Dallas. Harris and Evans were the first same sex couple to be married in Dallas after receiving their license. The couple have been together 54 years.

Updated: 9:30 p.m. CDT

AUSTIN, Texas — Two men in their 80s got the first same-sex marriage license Friday in Dallas, some gay couples elsewhere were denied and Gov. Greg Abbott, dismayed by the Supreme Court’s ruling, ordered state agencies to respect religious objectors.

The decision Friday that gays and lesbians have the same right to marry as any American reverberated quickly in Texas, which tumbled from the national forefront of opposition to a pastiche of euphoric couples rushing to county offices and Republican leaders parsing their defeat.

“We got it!” someone screamed in a Dallas County building as four couples waited for a decision and then marriage licenses.

Less than two hours after the ruling, Gena Dawson and Charlotte Rutherford of Austin were the first same-sex couple to hold a marriage license in Texas. Hundreds more couples followed, judges in Austin performed one gay wedding after another and owners of a Dallas comic book shop left customers a note on their locked door: “We’ll get married real quick and be back midday.”

Outside the civil courthouse in downtown Houston, crowds waved gay pride flags and one woman held up a sign reading, “Love is Love.” In San Antonio, Jordan and Donna Reed carried into the courthouse an envelope containing the $81 for a marriage license that that had been sitting on their kitchen table all week.

“There are two things I can’t wait to do: check ‘Married’ and to say ‘This is my wife’ and not my partner,” said Kristin Saunders, 41, of San Antonio.

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Outside the liberal big cities of Texas, many counties held off on issuing same-sex marriage licenses until receiving guidance from Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, who was quick to scold the Supreme Court but left counties in limbo for hours.

At least two same-sex couples were denied in Denton County, where officials tacked a sign on the door saying their computer software couldn’t process licenses for gay couples. In Houston, where a lesbian mayor oversees the nation’s fourth-largest city, marriage licenses finally started being issued after the Harris County clerk reversed himself and said he wouldn’t wait for state approval.

Abbott delivered an unequivocal rebuke of the decision that wiped out Texas’ decade-old constitutional ban on gay marriage.

“Despite the Supreme Court’s rulings, Texans’ fundamental right to religious liberty remains protected,” Abbott said. “No Texan is required by the Supreme Court’s decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage.”

But a quickly issued directive from Abbott to state agencies after the ruling was less clear-cut.

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