Counties scramble to update licensing software after same-sex marriage decision.

Want a Same-Sex Marriage? Make Sure Your County’s Software Is Up to Date.

Want a Same-Sex Marriage? Make Sure Your County’s Software Is Up to Date.

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 26 2015 4:45 PM

Want a Same-Sex Marriage? Make Sure Your County’s Software Is Up to Date.

marriage license at the Salt Lake.
Suzanne Marelius, left, and Kelli Frame, right, look at their marriage license in the Salt Lake County Recorder’s Office on Oct. 6, 2014.

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

For same-sex couples who couldn't get married until today, there shouldn't be anything left to worry about except where and when. But there's one thing to check before embarking on a victory lap to the local courthouse, and it's crushingly mundane: Has your county updated its marriage licensing software?

In the 14 states that didn't already offer same-sex marriages, counties are scrambling to ensure that their marriage licenses can accomodate two men or two women instead of only offering fields for "bride" and "groom."

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In Wilson County, Tennessee, County Clerk's Office supervisor Scott Goodall told the Wilson Post that the office had prepared its licensing system for the possibility of legalized same-sex marriage, but it didn't push the update until the ruling came down from the Supreme Court at 10 a.m. Eastern. "Ours is up and running good," he said. "On the print out, it still needs to be updated, but they said it will take a while before that's ready. We just have to cross out 'bride and groom' and write 'applicant 1 and applicant 2.' "

In South Dakota, the Department of Health announced that it had completed system updates to offer gender-neutral licenses beginning at 1 p.m. local time on Friday. Julie Risty, the Minnehaha County Register of Deeds, told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that she would start issuing same-sex marriage licenses when the update came through to her office.

In Harris County, Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported that County Attorney Vince Ryan was seeking a court order to compell County Clerk Stan Stanart to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Stanart said that he did not have forms with the appropriate gender fields and thought that using these for same-sex marriages would nullify the unions. But he added that he would begin issuing licenses at 3 p.m. local time on Friday.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that officials in Williamson County, Texas, posted a sign explaining that same-sex couples wouldn't be able to get a license until the county's software vendor performed the necessary updates. The sign did note, though, that neighboring Travis County was actively issuing licenses. Meanwhile, Hays County representative Laureen Chernow told the Statesman that it wasn't clear yet when the county would be ready to issue licenses, beucase County Clerk Liz Gonzalez was waiting for updated license forms from the state.  

Madison County, Tennessee, had updated its software by noon local time. County Attorney Steve Maroney told the Jackson Sun that, "I assume the right [to marry] is settled now. ... There just may be some logistical things with getting the licenses issued." After decades of advocating for marriage equality, same-sex couples prooobably won't give up because of "logistical things” like software updates.

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