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Government/Politics

Bexar’s Republican County Clerk Set To Greet Same-Sex Couples With ‘I Will,’ If SCOTUS Says He Can

Gerry-Rickhoff-Marriage.jpg
Joey Palacios
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Texas Public Radio
Bexar County Clerk Gerry Rickhoff holds the new and old versions of the Bexar County marriage license. The left is the one that will be used if SCOTUS rules states must grant marriages. The right is the reverse of the old license with "male" and "female"

The Bexar County Clerk says he’s ready for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would lift the Texas ban on same-sex marriage. The ruling could come as early as Monday morning. If that happens, Bexar County is 

Bexar-County-Marriage-License_2.jpg
Credit Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
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Texas Public Radio
The new marriage license for Bexar County is nearly identical to the old, however, the words 'male' and 'female' have been removed from the back.

ready to immediately grant marriage licenses and speed-up the matrimonial process for couples. 

Bexar County Clerk Gerry Rickhoff has been in office about 20 years. He generally presides over the process of granting marriage licenses for heterosexual couples four or five times a week. Rickhoff is now prepared to do the same thing for same-sex couples, if the Supreme Court rules Texas and other states must grant marriage licenses.

“I think the interpretation of the ruling will be very simple, it won’t be something [where] you need a scholar to ascertain what the meaning is,” he said. 

Rickhoff, a Republican, says his office will begin to grant licenses within 30 minutes of a ruling and he’ll stay open after hours if he needs to. 

Rickhoff has already changed the Bexar County marriage license. He pulls out a decorative contract with the word "NEW" written in red at the top. It has images of the Alamo, the Spanish Missions, the county courthouse and the Riverwalk. 

"You can see from the old one," he said pointing to two nearly identical marriage licenses. "That it had genders on the back and then this is the new one that’s been de-gendered, if that’s a word, but that’s what we’ve done there.”

Bexar County’s new marriage license doesn’t require those being married to identify themselves as male or female, even though the state’s application still does. 

“I can’t change that form, but the individuals could,” he said. “If they don’t agree with that gender designation, they could just cross through it as they see fit.”

To be married in Texas, a couple has to pay $81 and must usually wait 72 hours after receiving the license before holding the ceremony. Rickoff says there are Bexar County judges standing by to waive the waiting period immediately. The couple can then find someone to officiate.

Not all county clerks in Texas are willing to issue licenses as quickly. To same-sex couples in those counties Rickhoff says, “Just get in your car and come down to Bexar, because you’re going to be embraced here.”