Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, the U.S. lesbian couple granted Texas’ first same-sex marriage license Thursday, are political activists and supporters of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes in Texas and around the country. Goodfriend and Bryant were wed nearly a year after a federal judge ruled Texas’ ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, although marriages had been on hold while the case was appealed to a higher court.
A U.S. district court judge allowed the union because of Goodfriend’s ovarian cancer diagnosis, the Washington Post reported. “This couple may not get the chance to hear the outcome of this issue because [of] one person’s health,” the Travis County Clerk’s office said in a statement. Goodfriend had her last chemotherapy treatment for the cancer four and a half months ago, she said in a press conference reported by The Associated Press. "All of us wonder if the cancer grows back along with the hair growing back," she said.
Goodfriend, an economic and political consultant with more than 30 years of experience, was last a volunteer and adviser to Texas state Rep. Celia Israel. Goodfriend, who has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been a volunteer on President Barack Obama’s campaign in New Mexico. She called it a “great opportunity to learn grass-roots organizing and field management skills,” according to what appeared to be her profile on the website LinkedIn. Goodfriend also has assisted the Texas Democratic Party, the LGBT political action group, Equality Texas, the Human Rights Campaign and the Democratic Party of Travis County, where she and Bryant obtained the marriage license.
Bryant, an attorney with a private practice in Austin, Texas, specializes in assisting second-parent adoptions for gay and lesbian couples, according to a biography on her firm’s website. She has handled adoptions for hundreds of Texas families since 1995. Bryant received her law degree from the Duke University School of Law in North Carolina and is a member of the National Family Law Advisory Council, the Travis County Women Lawyers' Association, and the bar associations of Texas and Travis County.
The couple's two daughters were legally adopted by Goodfriend and Bryant years ago, but a legal marriage would affect their finances and property rights, Bryant said. Because of their marriage, if one of them dies, the other can inherit the other's property, as well as make medical decisions and funeral arrangements for the other.