For better and for worse, in sickness and in health, devoted couple focus on health and family as the issue of same-sex marriage engages Texans in social debate
Story by Ryan Fontenette-Mitchell, Reporter
Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant’s relationship is more than a sensational news blurb.
Before becoming the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Texas, the two shared a 30-year relationship.
Goodfriend and Bryant met during their undergraduate program at the University of North Carolina.
“I’ve always considered Suzanne my life partner and she feels the same way,” Goodfriend said.
The couple’s relationship has seen many developments over the years including the adoption of two daughters.
Dawn Goodfriend, 18, and Ting Goodfriend, 13, are biological sisters and were adopted from China. Both girls came to United States when they were about 2-years- old. Dawn arrived in 1999 and Ting arrived in 2003.
“I really cannot describe what it is like to travel to China and finally — after the paperwork, the waiting, and having a little tiny picture — to finally have the human being you have been waiting for placed in your hands and under your care,” Goodfriend said.
As in any relationship, happy times are tempered by trials.
Goodfriend was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer last May. Although the couple had considered marriage over the past 30 years, the cancer diagnosis created a new sense of urgency to get married. Bryant and Goodfriend felt it was important to have protections in place that would give Bryant rights to the couple’s children if Goodfriend died. They then filed for a Texas marriage license.
The court order granting their marriage license was directed specifically to Goodfriend and Bryant because of Goodfriend’s cancer.
Responses of the marriage varied, but were mostly favorable, Goodfriend said.
“Our mailman man left us a card with two wedding rings saying congrats and about time,” Goodfriend said.
“I would love to see [same sex marriage] become more acceptable in our society,” ACC mass communications major Megan Hall said. “I believe discrimination against same-sex marriage is unfair. Society needs to be more open minded to change nowadays.”
The marriage also generated disapproval.
“The reason I don’t support the marriage is because of my religious views,” John Thomas Baize, radiation therapist major, said. ”I wouldn’t call it a marriage. A marriage is between a man and woman.”
The varying public reactions and media attention taught the couple the importance of having a good sense of humor. Goodfriend said millennials are more accept- ing of same-sex marriage and hopes that in the future it won’t be an issue.
Hours after Goodfriend and Bryant received their marriage license, Texas Attorney General declared the license void. However, Travis County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir holds the license as valid.
Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether gay marriage bans nationwide are unconstitutional.
With media attention waning, the couple would like to finally go on their honeymoon.
Goodfriend said that she is six months away from her last chemotherapy treatment and that everything looks good so far.
Courtesy picture of The Austin American Satesmen