GRANBURY (CBSDFW.COM) – A same-sex couple that was turned away while applying for a marriage license last week in Hood County is now suing the county clerk. Dr. Jim Cato and partner Joe Stapleton took their first step toward marriage late Thursday afternoon.
County Clerk Katie Lang cited religious beliefs as her reason for refusing to file the application. However, she promised that someone in her office would accommodate the couple.
“We’re just here to get a marriage license. We’ve been calling every day and every day we’ve been denied,” Cato said last week. “We’ve been told now it’ll be three weeks or more. If she doesn’t immediately provide us with a marriage license, then the lawsuit moves forward on Monday.”
As promised, the couple electronically filed the lawsuit against Lang on Monday morning. “If her personal beliefs keep her from her duties as county clerk,” Cato said last week, “then she should probably step out of her job.”
Cato later stated that the marriage license was issued after the lawsuit was filed on Monday morning, and was awaiting pickup. The couple are expecting to get their license at about 3:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
But, according to the couple’s lawyer, the lawsuit will not be dismissed. “The license was issued this morning, a few hours after the lawsuit was filed, in handwriting on the existing license form, which proves that County Clerk Lang easily could have complied with the law without waiting 10 days,” attorney Jan Soifer said in a statement released on Monday morning. “Under these circumstances, the lawsuit will not be dismissed until and unless we have an agreement from Clerk Lang that her office will issue marriage licenses to all couples, gay and straight, without delay, and an agreement to pay Jim and Joe’s attorneys’ fees for being forced to file the lawsuit.”
Stapleton and Cato have been waiting 27 years to get married. They finally got the chance after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. The couple believes that the county clerk’s office violated their constitutional rights. “We’re not after her. We’re not after her job,” Stapleton added. “We’re after equality.”
The issue drew protesters from both sides last week, but only one person was taking a stand on Monday morning — in support of same-sex marriage. “It takes a lawsuit being filed for them to finally get their rights,” stated protester Adam Davies. “That’s just really disgusting, that a threat of punishment of some sort is all that will get people to follow their rights. It’s really embarrassing.”
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