The nation erupted in cheers and celebrations Friday morning after the Supreme Court issued its landmark marriage equality ruling, which legalized same-sex marriages across the United States.
By 10:30 am, the Travis County Clerk's Office was issuing marriage licenses to those eagerly awaiting the much-anticipated day. Ted Burton and Darin Upchurch were among those couples; they were the 24th couple in line that morning.
"We always wanted to get married in Austin because this is our home," Burton says. "I was born here. When it became evident the Supreme Court was going to rule in favor of marriage equality, we decided we wanted to get married on that day. It was important to me/us to be a part of history."
Burton was on the way to his office when he got a CNN alert about the ruling, along with a text from a friend that simply said, "WE WON."
"I pulled over, tried to calm my nerves, and called Darin and said, 'I'm coming home. We're getting married.'"
Burton and Upchurch have been together for 15 years. They say the best things about their wedding day were being able to marry their life partner in their own hometown and state — while being a part of history.
It started as a whirlwind. Burton called McPhail Florist and asked if he could quickly get two boutonnieres. "The woman who answered knew exactly why I was calling and said they would be ready when we arrived. When we got there, she hugged me and was crying."
As the couple arrived at the Travis County Clerk's Office, they began seeing other friends who were there to get married. When Burton's and Upchurch's number was called to receive their marriage license, the room erupted in applause — something Burton says happened spontaneously from ecstatic strangers all day long.
Judge Giesela Triana signed a waiver so that Burton and Upchurch didn't have to wait the usual 72 hours, and then she married them. "Judge Triana made it so special," Burton says. "I cried so much she had to give me a tissue. And she had to lecture Darin about moving our rings from our right hand to our left."
The newly married couple lunched at Gloria's Latin Cuisine downtown with friends, then walked to Fourth Street to be part of the #LoveWins rally with Mayor Steve Adler, Senator Kirk Watson and State Representative Celia Israel. Burton calls the event "overwhelming and amazing."
"Just a few years ago I said I didn't think we'd ever see this day during our lifetimes and we have," Burton says. "I hope in the future LGBT people look back and can't believe there was a time when gays couldn't marry. Just like we can't imagine there was a time when women couldn't vote, or blacks and whites couldn't marry. However, I know the fight continues. Discrimination and hate are so deep-seeded in America it will take years, possibly decades, to end it."
Perhaps Burton's 82-year-old mother best expressed the importance of this ruling. She asked Burton if this meant he and Upchurch were now husband and husband. When Burton answered yes, she simply replied, "Good. It's about time."