MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - Chris Crawford and his partner of 20 years, Ron Reid, were among the first five same-sex couples to be issued a marriage license Friday at Midland County Courthouse.
The newlyweds described the long-awaited legal document as "so much more than just a piece of paper."
"My partner is disabled and now I don't have to take a briefcase full of paperwork just to be able to take him to the doctor or get in to the emergency room," explained Crawford.
He said their status as a legally married couple would make it easier for him to take care of Reid's medical and financial needs. Other same-sex couples across Texas have yet to enjoy those benefits.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples can marry in all 50 states, but Texas lawmakers made it clear they have no intention of accepting the decision without a fight.
Crowds were still cheering in the streets of Austin when Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement Friday morning denouncing the Supreme Court for "[abandoning] its role as an impartial judicial arbiter and [becoming] an un-elected nine-member legislature."
Abbott went on to say, "Five Justices on the Supreme Court have imposed on the entire country their personal views on an issue that the Constitution and the Court's previous decisions reserve to the people of the States. Despite the Supreme Court's rulings, Texans' fundamental right to religious liberty remains protected. No Texan is required by the Supreme Court's decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage."
However, Crawford said he felt marriage equality and religious freedom could coexist.
"I would like to say to Governor Abbott, 'I am a Texas voter, as well as a United States citizen,' he told NewsWest 9. " Really and truly, we're all equal. Color, race [and sexual orientation have] nothing to do with anything."
Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement recommending "all county clerks and justices of the peace to wait for direction and clarity from [the Attorney General's office] about the meaning of the [Supreme Court's] opinion and the rights of Texans under the law."
Ector County Clerk Linda Haney is one of several statewide seeking "further clarification" before issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The county is "not refusing" to marry gay couples, she explained, but "simply awaiting direction from the Texas Attorney General."