Lesbian pair are married

By John Gutierrez-Mier
Express-News Staff Writer

With a few simple words Jessica and Robin Wicks did what most couples madly in love with each other often do.

In front of family and friends, they made a vow.

"I promise to share with you the bitter things in life as well as the sweet," they told each other during a brief wedding ceremony Saturday night.

The Rev. John Nicholas of the Metropolitan Community Church presided over the ceremony and told them the sweetness of life certainly outweighs the bitter, then pronounced them "one in holy union."

The elated couple waved to the crowd and thanked them for their support.

"I feel wonderful. We always wanted to get married. We love each other deeply," said Jessica Wicks, who wore a white satin floor-length wedding dress.

Robin Wicks, who had changed her name before the wedding as an act of devotion to her partner, said this was the happiest day of her life.

"I'm on cloud nine. What's sad is the world doesn't allow people who love one another to marry if they desire."

Just 10 days ago, the Houston couple raised a few eyebrows and gained national attention when they were issued a marriage license by the Bexar County clerk's office.

Months earlier, they were turned away by the Harris County clerk's office after they presented their drivers' licenses in an attempt to get a marriage license. Both of their licenses were marked female, and the clerk denied their request stating that same-gender marriages are illegal in Texas.

But Jessica Wicks had undergone a sex reassignment procedure to alter her sex from male to female.

The pair turned to Bexar County where last year a case decided by the Texas 4th Court of Appeals rejected a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a transsexual after her husband died. The case is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Christy Lee Littleton, a 48-year-old San Antonio transsexual, sued Dr. Mark Prang for malpractice after her husband died. But the 4th Court of Appeals ruled she wasn't entitled to damages because she was formerly a man and same-sex marriages are not legal in Texas.

Littleton was represented by Phyllis Frye, the lawyer who advised the Wickses to seek a license in Bexar County, one of 32 counties under the jurisdiction of the 4th Court of Appeals.

"I feel relieved because something like this has never happened before. I especially feel warm because I was the instrument that helped two people get married," she said.

The wedding was a landmark event for the couple and for many who looked on.

The setting was appropriate as about 60 people from San Antonio's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities celebrated "Fiesta Del Jardin," an annual fund-raiser sponsored by the San Antonio Equal Rights Political Caucus, a gay rights political action group.

Linda Nix said she was delighted with the wedding.

"I think it's earth-shattering. I'm highly impressed," she said.

"I never thought I'd see the day. It's a great time for the community," Nix said.

Her partner of 13 years, Becky McBee, was equally impressed.

"I hope that everybody recognizes the importance of this occasion," she said. "This is something to celebrate."

But not everyone who turned out was there to celebrate the nuptials.

A small group of sign-carrying protesters stood outside the Tuscan Villas Apartments, where the wedding was held, saying the ceremony was an abomination.

"We're here to do what's right according to God," said the Rev. Raymond Dean, pastor of the Family Worship Center. "We don't hate the people, we hate the sin."

The Wicks wedding comes on the heels of a study recently released by the University of Texas at San Antonio's Metropolitan Research and Policy Institute.

The study, conducted last year, polled 544 San Antonio residents on various issues, including their attitudes toward gay and lesbian issues and whether they agreed that homosexual couples should have the right to marry.

Fourteen percent agreed strongly, 26.4 percent agreed, while 27.8 percent disagreed and 31.8 percent strongly disagreed.

Juanita Firestone, sociology professor at UTSA, said there were a few surprises.

"The big surprise was that Hispanics were more open to homosexuals than Anglos," said Firestone, who helped with the survey and conducted a senior seminar class on sexual politics.

Also, according to the study, age made a difference.

"Younger people are a lot more open and that says a lot since they will be our city councilmen and political leaders in the future," she said.

Sarah DePalma, state organizer for the Texas Gender Advocacy Information Network, was elated with the outcome of the license request.

She stressed that there is a distinct difference between gender and sexual orientation.

"Sex is the body you're born with, while gender is all the behavior that society expects from a person," DePalma said. "If you really think about it, it's like if you're born with blue eyes and society says that everyone with that color of eyes is going to be a plumber. That's totally absurd.

"Where people get confused is they can't seem to understand that if you're attracted to women and you have a sex-reassignment operation, you're still going to like women," she said. "The only thing that happens is that society changes labels and while you were once a heterosexual, now you're labeled homosexual.

"It's a hard concept for people to understand."


jgmier@express-news.net

09/16/2000

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