Galveston County issuing triple the marriage licenses due to COVID-19

GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- El Paso residents Judy Sanders and her fiancé, Michael Koner, searched everywhere to find a county nearby that could issue them a marriage license, but they didn't have much luck.

"We've been trying to get a marriage license just as the COVID-19 virus started," Sanders said. "We checked for 200 to 300 miles, including New Mexico, and no one is issuing marriage licenses. We checked with Austin and Dallas ... couldn't get one there."

That's because county clerk's offices were either shut down or booked up.

On May 29, the couple booked a flight to Houston and headed down to Galveston County, where the clerk's office was open and ready to issue them a marriage license.

They weren't the only people in Texas with the same idea.

For Dallas newlyweds, Jordan and Erika Travis, finding a nearby county to issue them a marriage license wasn't working out, but then they found out they could get one in Galveston County without needing an appointment or residential status.

"It was definitely a small victory for all of the repeated blows we kept getting," Erika said. "Bad news after bad news. It's just like something's got to give, and we were just so grateful."

Galveston County Clerk Dwight Sullivan said they've started seeing marriage license numbers triple.

In May, they issued 712 licenses compared to 236 in May 2019, and they've issued more than 600 this month compared to 177 last June.

Sullivan said people have even traveled from Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New York to get a marriage license in Galveston County.

"Reasons we are hearing, when I talk to staff and that people chat with us about, is that most of the offices in the Houston metroplex are taking appointments only. I can't speak specifically to any office, but I do know most of them are taking appointments and that may not be too many per day. So, what I've heard most of the offices are now taking appointments after mid-July because they're so full," Sullivan explained.

He said they are still enforcing social distancing at his office and is urging people to wear a mask if they decide to stop by.

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