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Taylor County Issues Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples

For same-sex couples seeking a marriage license in Taylor County the question evolved from “if” to “when” and then to “how?”

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that same-sex marriage is legal, several couples went to the County Clerk’s office for a marriage license only to be turned away pending an approval from the state attorney General’s office.

Taylor County Clerk Larry G. Bevill was not sure how to proceed without updated gender-neutral documents or with approval from the state of Texas.

“Honestly I don’t believe county clerks are getting any good legal, decisive advice from our attorney general or our governor,” Bevill said. “I take an oath of office to be county clerk where I will uphold and defend the constitution of the United States and of this state and both of those are at odds with each other right now.”

David McDonald and his partner of 14 years, Troy Bonar, were not able to receive a marriage license on Friday as they hoped, but on Monday they got a phone call from Bevill informing them that the gender-specific titles on the marriage license had been changed and they could now receive their license.

“From my understanding there are over a 1,000 rights that will be given to gay couples now that legal marriage licenses will be allowed," McDonald said. "It’s amazing to me that anyone couldn’t see the validity of that and the importance of that and the importance of having legal equality.”

“The government shouldn’t be in the marriage business in the first place,” Bonar said.  “You know we’ve been living together for 14 years but there are so many other things, benefits, employer benefits that are all tied to having a legal marriage. That’s why it is important for us.”

McDonald grew up in Abilene and attended a conservative church throughout his childhood. He said people often get caught up in a “verbal semantic difference” over the terminology.

“To me, specifically, personally, marriage is the legal merging and protection of liquid and physical assets between two people that a license has to be issued with a state official,” McDonald said. “Holy Matrimony is a covenant between a man and woman in the eyes of God that has to be ruled over by a religious official.”

On Tuesday morning McDonald and Bonar received their license at the Taylor County Courthouse, they were the second same-sex couple to do so just after the doors opened.  On their heels were Kelsey Hegwood and her partner, Kallie Rodgers.

“She is my soul mate and I cannot be more blessed to find her,” Hegwood said.  “I am so glad that America has finally come to the realization that our love is equal to everyone else’s. This is just really a blessing."