Texas couple finally gets marriage license from anti-LGBT county clerk who denied them

After a county official denied them a same-sex marriage license, two men have finally exercised their legal right

By Jenny Kutner

Published July 7, 2015 7:35PM (EDT)

       (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-64260p1.html'>Syda Productions</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>)
(Syda Productions via Shutterstock)

A Texas couple that was forced to file a lawsuit in order to marry in their hometown was vindicated this week -- because despite the fact that some in the Lone Star state have already tried to challenge the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of marriage equality, guess what? Even in conservative, small-town southern counties, the decision stands.

Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton, residents of Granbury, Texas, decided after 27 years together to get married in their home county in the wake of SCOTUS' decision. But, despite the nationwide ruling, the pair was unceremoniously denied multiple times by Hood County Clerk Katie Lang, who refused to issue the pair a marriage license on the basis of her religious beliefs -- a course of action recommended by state attorney general Ken Paxton late last month.

“We live in Granbury. We pay our taxes in Granbury,” Cato said last week. “We do not feel like we have to travel somewhere else for our marriage license. We will stick it out here until we get our license in Granbury.”

In addition to sticking it out, Cato and Stapleton also filed a federal lawsuit against Lang on Monday, claiming the clerk violated their right to equal protection under the law. Their legal action appears to have worked: Shortly after filing suit, Lang's office -- though not Lang herself -- issued the couple a marriage license.

"Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton are delighted that they finally have been issued a marriage license and can get married in their home county," the couple's attorneys, Jan Soifer and Austin Kaplan, said in a statement. "It’s a shame that they needed to hire lawyers and file a lawsuit to make that happen."

But according to NBC DFW, the newlyweds don't plan to drop their legal challenge just yet:

Soifer said they are seeking an agreement from Lang that her office will issue licenses to same-sex couples without delay and paying attorneys' fees. [...] The marriage license for Cato and Stapleton was one of two issued by the Hood County Clerk’s office Monday.

Lisa Rozenberg told NBC 5 she and her partner were turned down last week, but had no problems obtaining one Monday afternoon.

“We went in there and no problems,” Rozenberg said, “they’re confused in there – they didn’t have us fill out the form, she did it on the computer.”

Lang posted a statement on the Hood County clerk's website saying others in her office would issue the licenses, but that "the religious doctrines to which I adhere compel me to personally refrain from issuing same-sex marriage licenses."

Watch Cato and Stapleton triumphantly display their marriage license beloW:

(h/t Huffington Post)

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