The Bexar County Clerk is preparing for a possible flood of same-sex couples wanting to get married — if San Antonio-based U.S. Federal Judge, Orlando Garcia, lifts a stay on the Texas gay marriage ban.
Gerard Rickhoff is a Republican who isn’t afraid to admit his own party is in the wrong, when the party’s line tries to legislate morality.
“I like to think of myself as a social liberal and a fiscal conservative," he said. "I have a calculator on my desk and I use it quite often in my business making decisions, but love doesn't know any bounds. I think the government, when they try to intrude into morality, they're wrong most of the time.”
The 20-year county clerk is as understanding as it gets. But yes, he said he follows the law. Texas has a ban on same-sex marriage for now, so he will not issue these couples a marriage license. Though, now he said he is getting ready to do so, in case Judge Garcia decided to lift the stay as requested by an attorney of two same-sex couples battling for marriage equality.
That could bring in people from counties all over the place, including counties where the Judge’s ruling doesn’t hold.
“There are 254 clerks in the state of Texas and so some might interpret it in a more lenient manner and some might interpret it as a more conservative manner," Rickhoff said. "Some aren’t under the stay of the federal judge here. They have their own federal judge proximities,” said Rickhoff.
Rickhoff said it was bittersweet for the same-sex couples he knows, many of who have had to leave the state to get married, something that cost both money and time. “Most of the people that I know personally have already gone to other states and countries to be married. They’re already married. They went to Hawaii or New Mexico or to the east coast, so most of them have already effected their marriages,” he observed.
He was quite clear that if the judge lifted the stay on same-sex marriage, he would be ready to follow the law with immediate effect and keep his office open 24 hours a day to accommodate the expected rush. County clerks across the state plan on doing the same. Most believe they might only have a limited window of time, before, as Rickhoff said, another potential injunction could stop them yet again.