Lubbock judge stops performing marriages after Supreme Court ruling

Published: Jun. 30, 2015 at 3:09 AM CDT|Updated: May. 19, 2016 at 2:26 PM CDT
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Covarrubio & Sanchez
Covarrubio & Sanchez
Hansen's letter
Hansen's letter

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Judge Jim Hansen, Lubbock Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, has decided to quit performing marriages altogether after the Supreme Court decided to legalize same-sex marriage three days ago.

In an open letter, Judge Hansen writes that he has no anger, fear, or hatred toward any person or party, he is simply guaranteed his religious rights under the United States Constitution.

But one same-sex couple in Lubbock was outraged by the announcement.

Eddie Sanchez and Chris Covarrubio have lived together for about 13 years, and they are no strangers to adversity.

"When we first met, we were afraid to really keep anything pride-related on our vehicles," Covarrubio said. "It was even to the point where if I was working nights I would tell him, 'Make sure when you go into the apartment you look around, make sure there's no one looking at you or following you'. Just that fear of always, what was going on?"

On January 31, 2014, the two men were issued a marriage license in Clovis, New Mexico.

"Being able to get married," Sanchez said, "is something we didn't really think would ever happen."

Little did they know, more people across the nation would have this opportunity six months later.

"I just start crying," Covarrubio said, thinking back to the Supreme Court ruling. "I just kind of sat back from him and went, Wow, it happened."

Covarrubio was thrilled by the decision, but he said discrimination is far from over.

"I just want to see more acceptance," he said, "and more tolerance in our area."

When Covarrubio heard about Lubbock County Judge Jim Hansen's decision not to perform anymore marriages because of the Supreme Court's decision, he was extremely disappointed.

"If you're a state employee then you should be required to officiate under the letter of the law, and this is the law, whether he likes it or not," he said, "so abide by it or step aside and let somebody else who will honor the law."

To this couple, Hansen's words have shed light on a road they've traveled before; one they hope will end soon.

"You can be accepting of other people's lives," Covarrubio said, "and still keep your religion intact."

KCBD reached out to the county clerks of many South Plains counties in our viewing area, and here are the results:

Brisco, Hale, Crosby, Dickens, Yoakum and Lynn counties are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples at this time.

Lubbock, Terry, Garza, Kent, Borden, Scurry, Hockley, Cochran, Bailey, Parmer, Castro, Swisher counties are waiting for applications, then will issue licenses.

Lamb and Gaines counties are waiting to make a decision.

Floyd, Motley and Dawson did not respond.

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