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Hopkins County Awaits Supreme Court Ruling

imagesTomorrow or any day this month, the nation could receive the ruling by the U S Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage. Same sex couples in states which currently ban their marriage are now making wedding plans as courthouse officials are getting ready for different scenarios. Steadfast foes to same sex marriage are working on their strategies to keep up the opposition.

Marriage license bureaus are bracing for a rush of applicants if the court overturns bans. Meanwhile, there’s been a series of planning sessions by groups that intend to explore religious objection responses to protect “traditional marriage” limited to heterosexuals. In Texas, the state legislature passed a bill that allows pastors and other ministers who object due to religious beliefs to be excused from performing same sex marriages. However, state officials will be faced with the requirements of the law.

Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom told KSST News Tuesday afternoon (June 23) that the reaction of the state and county depends on how broad the ruling by the Supreme Court. He stated that he has not pondered the question but that local Justices of the Peace have discussed the issue. Both Justices of the Peace, Brad Cummings and B. J. Teer, told KSST News that they would reserve their comments until after the decision of the court is published. Traditionally those individuals elected as Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 and JP Precinct 2 do a number of marriage ceremonies each year.

Hopkins County Clerk Debbie Shirley said her office would await instructions from the State of Texas Department of Vital Statistics regarding application forms and licenses for marriage if the court ruling allows same sex marriage nationwide. Shirley said that her office is a branch of state and local government and would follow their directions in the matter. She said that her office would follow state law “like I always do.” She hopes to have a little leeway in being able to respond to immediate requests for marriage license. Correct forms are needed for both application and license and those would have changes in how they are worded.

Marriage application forms, approved through the state, are provided to Shirley’s office on vender software. The vender would make changes to the software, she said. The applications are required by state law to be a certain size and format as well as worded according to law.

Licenses are not available on software but are printed by a specific printing company. Her last purchase of license was $900 for 500 copies. She recently ordered new licenses and would probably need to order corrected licenses should the Supreme Court rule in favor of a nation-wide mandate favoring same sex marriage.

KSST will continue to follow the question as same sex couples in the nation, state, and county await the Supreme Court ruling. We will revisit local officials should the court favor same sex marriage.

Author: Staff Reporter

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