Dozens cash in on free Valentine’s Day wedding ceremony

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On the day of love, two judges chose to include same-sex couples during free wedding ceremonies at the Travis County Courthouse.

Because of Texas’ law banning same-sex marriages, they planned to call it a “commitment ceremony.”

Republican politicians including Todd Staples, a candidate for lieutenant governor, bashed the decision saying it was wrong for a judge to perform a ceremony that mocks the state constitution.

The issue never came to pass since no same-sex couples showed up for the ceremony Friday. However, the big Valentine’s Day tradition remained memorable.

Together for four years, Robert Middleton and his new wife Gabriella said “I do” with dozens of other couples.

“Having two judges who are married, marry you, and one speaks English and the other Spanish is special,” Robert Middleton said. “We’re going to remember that for a long time.

“We wanted to have a ceremony with the judge and why not do it on Valentine’s Day, but better yet, it also helps us where we can have a party later in a year and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

Judge John Lipscombe and his wife, retired judge Jan Breland, also perform commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples.

“These commitments are no less important and long lasting than marriage ceremonies between heterosexual couples,” Lipscombe said. “Everyone’s entitled if they’re in love with one another to have a ceremony.”

During previous past Valentine’s Day events, the county clerk’s office had to turn away several same-sex couples.

February 14th weddings have other perks.

“I’m forgetful,” said Kevin Houston, who married his longtime girlfriend Friday. “I could forget my own anniversary, but I figure you can’t forget this.”

Like the weddings, the judges hope to keep this tradition alive for many more years to come. This was the 25th year for the free ceremonies.

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