Sept. 6, 2000, 11:34PM

Lesbian couple all set for big day

Issuance of marriage license makes historic union official

By JOHN W. GONZALEZ
Copyright 2000 Houston Chronicle

SAN ANTONIO -- A love-struck couple from Houston made history on Wednesday by obtaining the first marriage license issued in Texas to two lesbians -- a union that will be legal under current state law because one of them used to be a man.

"Everybody keeps talking about us making history. We just want to get married," said transsexual Jessica Wicks, who plans to wed Robin Wicks here on Sept. 16 now that Bexar County Clerk Gerry Rickoff has issued them a license.

"I love her with all my heart and soul, and we deserve to be married," said Jessica Wicks, who was born a male, Grady Roland Wicks. "I pray that somehow, some way, this will open the doors for gays and lesbians everywhere."

License in hand, standing on the county courthouse steps with her fiancÚ, Robin Wicks -- who already changed her surname as a sign of devotion to her partner of four years -- said "love is all there is. It shouldn't matter who you are."

"These two people make a very lovely couple and there's nothing wrong with them, other than the fact that they're head over heels in love," said their lawyer, Phyllis Randolph Frye, also of Houston.

Frye exhorted similar couples from throughout the nation to come to San Antonio to be married here under an appellate court ruling that applies only to Bexar and 31 surrounding counties. The decision by the state's 4th Court of Appeals said a person's chromosomes, not genitalia, determine their gender for the purposes of determining whether they are legally married.

"I'm inviting any trans-man -- that is, a female to male transsexual -- who has a boyfriend and they are in a gay male relationship, as well as any trans-woman who is male to female and is now living with a woman and they're in a lesbian relationship, to come to the 4th Court's jurisdiction," Frye said.

"No matter what state you live in you can take a week's vacation, fly in, get a marriage license that day, wait 72 hours and get married," she said.

Jessica Wicks, 53, a retired state employee, and Robin Wicks, 44, a social worker, initially sought the $36 license in Harris County, but were rejected. Officials there said Texas law doesn't permit same-sex marriages.

However, because of the regional appellate court's ruling, which does not affect Harris County, Rickoff said he had no choice but to grant the license.

The 1999 ruling, which has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, was a setback for transsexual Christie Lee Cavazos Littleton, whose seven-year marriage to a San Antonio man, now deceased, was ruled invalid as part of a wrongful death damage lawsuit.

"They told Christie she couldn't be married to a man, and they're (Harris County) telling Jessica that she can't be married to a woman. So what they're saying, in effect, is that transsexuals can't be married to anyone," Frye, herself a transsexual, said.

"We notified the (Bexar) county clerk and we asked them to study the law and they agreed in these 32 counties that if a woman has an `M' (male) on her original birth certificate, she can marry another woman who has an `F' (female) on her original birth certificate," Frye said.

Although news accounts of the impending marriage set off a debate among religious conservatives, gay-lesbian-transgender activists and others, Rickoff said he had very few critical calls from the public about his decision to grant the license.

The Wickses apparently will be only the second lesbian couple in the nation to legally wed. A Vermont couple with similar circumstances were the first to tie the knot, Frye said.


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