North Texas Daily

Marriage Equality: How Denton County reacted to the ruling

Marriage Equality: How Denton County reacted to the ruling

Marriage Equality: How Denton County reacted to the ruling
June 28
12:11 2015

Edward Balusek | Editor-in-Chief

Dalton LaFerney | News Editor

Nicholas Friedman | Features Editor

Rhiannon Saegert | Senior Staff Writer

Monday, June 29

9:00 a.m. – Whitney Hennen and Sara Bollinger become the first couple in the county to receive their marriage license, though another couple, who did not talk to reporters, had their paperwork processed before Hennen and Bollinger.

8:31 a.m. – Denton County Clerk Juli Luke begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses to couples, although Luke says it contradicts her religious beliefs.

Friday, June 26

9:14 p.m – Bubbles and raindrops landed on the crowd of more than 100 people gathered to watch Angelia Ford and Ellen Depee get married in front of the Courthouse on the Square Friday evening.

Their marriage was the centerpiece of a marriage equality rally held in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier today, and Denton County’s subsequent refusal to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“I knew we were going to have marriage equality in Texas because in the week leading up to this we’ve had amazing rainbows in the sky,” Unitarian minister Pamela Wat said. “So I knew God was on our side.”

The crowd cheered after the couple exchanged rings, kissed and embraced.


Residents brought their rainbow flags to the celebration on the Square where Denton’s first same-sex marriage took place.

“I genuinely, from the bottom of my heart,thank all of my brothers and sisters who have come out tonight to support us,”Depee said. “It means more to us than you know. We’ve very, very grateful to share this moment with you, here in our hometown.”

Wat spoke about people who say they don’t support marriage equality for religious reasons or see it as a threat to the sanctity of marriage.

“They say they are speaking for the faith community,” Wat said. “Well, I’m here to tell you they are not. When some people can get married and some people can’t, that’s injustice and injustice does not line up with what is sacred.”DSC_6890

 An excited crowd cheered and applauded as the wedding ceremony began on the Square.

Kathryn Winters from OUTreach Denton, a nonprofit support organization for LGBTQ youth, spoke about how the ruling would affect younger members of the community, providing certainty and hope that hadn’t existed.

“Our children can grow up knowing that their family is equal to every other family out there,” Winters said. “There are still LGBT youth who are being kicked out of their homes, onto the street, who are being abused and neglected. There’s still so much work to do but this gives them a little bit more hope for their future.”

The crowd stayed briefly, but was eventually rained out. Wat said she plans to throw a party July 11, where she and other ministers will marry same sex couples for free.

6:09 p.m. – A couple is to get married on the Courthouse Square within the hour at a marriage equality celebration.

Reporters are on the scene with live coverage via Periscope.

3:12 p.m. – Denton County Clerk Juli Luke said she won’t be speaking with our reporters. Sources on the scene say she’s going to be in meetings all afternoon.

Protestors with signs showedup to the court house, but are now in the streets nearby.11667014_10153935967697506_542219170_n

Protesters lined up outside the county courthouse and waved signs at passing traffic in response to the denial of same-sex marriage licenses.

2:28 p.m. – Denton County Clerk Luke released another statement saying she has “no intention of defying today’s Supreme Court decision.” The letter went on to state that Luke has asked for additional clarification from the district attorney’s office in order to speed up the process.


The third statement issued by Denton County Clerk Juli Luke.

12:36 p.m. – Denton County Clerk Luke announced that no licenses will be printed in the county today, as all offices use the same vendor. Satellite offices included.

12:18 p.m. – Nickell and Hernandez have decided to go to the Dallas County office to get their application processed.

12:05 p.m. – Another notice has been posted at the county clerk’s desk, stating that the office is not currently issuing same-sex marriage licenses pending a vendor issue.


After turning couples away, notices were posted around the courthouse explaining that licenses would not be issued.

12:00p.m. –  After consulting with legal consel, the District Attorney Paul Johnson has given County Clerk Juli Luke deciding power on application status.

The first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license in Denton has been denied by the county clerk.

Tod King and Casey Cavalier, who have been together for 19 years, arrived at the Denton County clerk’s office Friday morning to apply for a marriage license. Their request was denied by Luke.


Casey Cavalier, left, and Tod King were the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license in Denton County.

“We were really excited this morning. We weren’t together so we texted back and forth,” Cavalier said. “We took a rainbow flag and hung it on thehouse. Then we came down here and got a little disappointed that they weren’t prepared for this.”

Denton County judge Mary Horn said she would refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

A second couple, Sara Nickell and Laura Hernandez, arrived shortly after to apply for a license, and have sought the counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union to expedite the process. Hernandez graduated from UNT in 2013. They have been together for over four years.


Sara Nickell and Laura Hernandez came to the courthouse to receive a marriage license but were turned away. 

“Not that we expected it, but we were prepared for it,” Nickell said. “We thought that we would give it a chance and see what was going down. Walking in you read the memo on the door and you think, ‘I guess I can see where this is going.'”

A notice was posted at the Denton County clerk’s office from the desk of Luke, stating that she would be deferring to legal counsel before proceeding with any decision.


When same-sex couples arrived at the county courthouse, they were met with a statement released by county clerk Juli Luke. Luke issued several statements throughout the day stating her reasoning for not approving marriage applications. 

Photos by Edward Balusek | Editor-in-Chief & Hannah Ridings | Visuals Editor

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