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GRANBURY (CBS 11 NEWS) – A gay couple in Granbury took a tentative step toward marriage Thursday afternoon as dueling protests on the gay marriage issue swirled outside the Hood County Clerk’s Office.

Late Thursday afternoon Dr. Jim Cato and his long-time partner, Joe Stapleton, were denied filling out a marriage license… but did fill out an application for a license following lengthy discussions with various attorneys and County Clerk Kati Lang.

Outside the clerk’s office, the issue sparked a protest and a counter protest.

On one side gay marriage supporters, on the other people supporting Lang, who had earlier said she would not personally issue same-sex marriage licenses because of her closely-held religious beliefs. Earlier Lang said someone in her office could issue same-sex licenses, but so far no one has.

Kristin Morgan supported Lang. “She fought for what she believed in, and she should not be persecuted for that. And that is what the Freedom of Religion law is for in the First Amendment,” she said.

“We don’t check our religious freedoms at home,” said another Lang supporter, Louis Presley, adding, “We should be able to go to our place of employment and still have that deeply-held religious freedom.”

Across the street, Amber Light held up a sign in support of the two gay men’s marriage attempt. “I believe in love for everybody! I agree with them on religious freedom, I believe in the Constitution as well but I also believe in love, and that’s why I’m on this side of the street,” she told CBS 11 News.

Cato and Stapleton were reserved, if disappointed. “We’re just here to get a marriage license. We’ve been calling every day and every day we’ve been denied. We’ve been told now it’ll be three weeks or more,” Dr. Cato said frustrated.  “If she [Lang] doesn’t immediately provide us with a marriage license then the lawsuit moves forward on Monday. If her personable beliefs keep her from her duties as County Clerk then she should probably step out of her job.”

Stapleton made it clear, “We’re not after her [Lang]. We’re not after her job. We’re after equality.”

The lawsuit Cato mentioned will be filed in a yet to be determined federal court, and will allege violations of the men’s 14th Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.

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