Jack Evans, Part of Dallas' First Gay Marriage, Dies at 86

Jack Evans wedded longtime partner George Harris in Dallas County's first legally recognized marriage ceremony last June. Evans, 86, died Thursday night.
Jack Evans wedded longtime partner George Harris in Dallas County's first legally recognized marriage ceremony last June. Evans, 86, died Thursday night.
Stephen Young

Jack Evans died Thursday night, three days short of his first wedding anniversary. He was 86.

Last June 26, Evans married his longtime partner, George Harris, 82, in Dallas County's first ever legal same-sex marriage ceremony. Evans and Harris were together for 56 years and pioneers in Dallas' LGBTQ community, helping start the city's GLBT Chamber of Commerce. When the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide, they were given a spot at the head of the line at the Dallas County Records Building.

From our coverage that day:

Harris and Evans received Dallas County's first same-sex marriage license from Dallas County Clerk John Warren, who acted in defiance of a Thursday message from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton telling county clerks to wait before issuing licenses in the event of the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

Paxton's office, Warren said, "does not trump the highest court in the land." He's asked the state for new forms, he said, ones that offer more than binary gender choices, but hasn't received a reply. Until he does, Warren told same-sex couples gathered at the Dallas County Records building that they can edit the forms themselves.

After asking for, and failing to receive, a senior discount on their marriage license fee, Harris and Evans did just that before paying $91 for their license, signed personally by Warren.

"Is this when you kiss the bride?" Evans asked Warren after being handed the license.

Harris told him he was jumping the gun.

Evans wouldn't have to wait long. State District Judge Dennise Garcia, a member of Harris and Evans' church, married the couple immediately in a nearby courtroom. After the brief ceremony, the room, filled with couples waiting their turn, burst into applause.

"Love rules," Harris said. "I hope we can let the conservatives see us and know we are not a danger to society."

Asked about honeymoon plans, Harris said he was going home for a martini and a nap.

A memorial service for Evans will be held he at Harris' church, Northaven United Methodist, on a date to be announced, the church says. Eric Folkerth, the church's pastor, said in a statement that Evans died in the hospital with Harris at his side. 

"To see the care that he and George gave to each other, not only on every average day, but also in the quiet of a hospital room, was an inspiration to me on countless occasions," he said.


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