Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Montgomery County, PA Issues Marriage Licenses to Same Sex Couples

Montgomery County, PA Issues Marriage Licenses to Same Sex Couples

Even though same sex marriage is still not legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Montgomery County in PA issued marriage licenses to same sex couples today in defiance of the ban on same sex marriage. Tony and I live in Bucks County, PA, which is only a few miles from where the marriage licenses were issued, and it's s significant move for those who issued the licenses and those who obtained them.

Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state without same-sex marriages or civil unions. In other states that ban same-sex marriage, licenses issued by defiant local officials have later been overturned by courts and the unions voided.

The Pennsylvania ban is being challenged by an ACLU lawsuit filed this month in federal court.

The chairman of the Montgomery County Commission predicted that marriage equality will come to Pennsylvania. "It's a question of how long it will take, and what will be the legal process to achieve it. But we know we will be a part of that," Josh Shapiro said.

Tony and I have good friends from New Hope, PA, who are in Provincetown, MA, right now getting married this week as a result of the recent SCOTUS ruling, but we've been waiting to see how this unfolds in Pennsylvania. This is where we live, this is where we pay taxes, and this is where we choose to live in the future. And neither of us wants to go to another state with which we aren't familiar to get married by complete strangers. And we're not the type to get married on a beach. The odds are we wouldn't plan a huge wedding at this stage in our lives. However, I'd like to at least wear a suit and tie, have an after eight wedding, and make it a little formal...with professional photos.

In any event, it's still far from simple.

Hanes, a Cheltenham resident elected in 2007, said that last week - for the first time - a lesbian couple had requested a marriage license from him.

After consulting with solicitors, Hanes said he "was prepared to issue a license to the couple."
The couple were to receive the license at a news conference Tuesday but canceled.

The couple's attorney, Michael J. Diamondstein, said in a statement that they "chose not to go forward because they were extremely concerned that the issuance of the marriage license would be challenged on procedural grounds without the courts ever addressing the actual issue of marriage equality."

In other words, the tricky legal system could screw them over and make it a complete waste of time.

But it is significant in the sense that same sex couples are fighting back now and they're are getting support from the straight community in PA, especially since PA is the only state in the northeast that doesn't allow same sex marriage or civil unions. I actually didn't know that until now. I thought there were others, but NJ does have civil unions. This is a good article with a lot more information, and a nice photo of the couple who got married.

Alicia Terrizzi and Loreen Bloodgood, of Pottstown, were the only couple to marry right away, exchanging vows in a park before a minister and their two young sons.

“We’re not setting out to be pioneers. We don’t think our family is any different than anybody else,” said Terrizzi, a 45-year-old teacher. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

Montgomery County is the third largest population in PA, and Tony and I actually have a lot of family there. I wouldn't be surprised of Bucks and Philadelphia counties didn't follow soon.

I have to paraphrase this next part, because I saw it on the local news earlier this evening. One gay man who was in Montgomery County said something to this effect, "I've been gay for over forty years and most of them were spent in the closet. I'm tired; just plain tired."

I know just how he feels.

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