Pennsylvania County Defies State Ban On Gay Marriage, Issues Licenses To Couples

penn-marriagesMontgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes has decided to come down on the “right side of history and the law,” thus granting same-sex couples marriage licenses despite Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage. Hanes has issued marriage licenses to at least five couples and one has become the very first to walk down the aisle.

“We’ve been a family for 18 years and we’re no different than anybody else, and finally it’s recognized,” Alicia Terrizzi told NBC10 Philadelphia. Terrizzi married her partner Loreen Bloogood in a small religious ceremony in the park with their two sons present. They plan on having a larger ceremony next week with friends and family. “It doesn’t make any difference to us. Nothing is going to change, but now we’re gonna have a piece of paper so everyone else recognizes it.”

Montgomery County was actually ready to start issuing licenses on Tuesday but there was a bit of confusion surrounding a pending lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s 17-year ban on gay marriage. The ACLU filed the suit two weeks ago against Governor Tom Corbett and Attorney General Kathleen Kane, but on July 11 Kane said she would not defend the law in court. Corbett, a Republican who opposes marriage equality, has yet to announce whether he will fight the lawsuit and has refused to comment on Kane’s decision.

Other states banning same-sex marriage have seen licenses issued by defiant local officials voided by the court, so the ACLU warned expectant couples that they could face the same fate in Pennsylvania.

“We know how it has played out in a few other states; we don’t know how it might turn out in Pennsylvania,” said ACLU spokeswoman Molly Tack-Hooper. “Gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage licenses in Montgomery County should be aware that there might be uncertainty about the legal statuses of those marriages for a while because unfortunately in other states, governments have later invalidated the marriages.”

But for now, Terrizi and Bloodgood are enjoying married life, no matter how long it lasts. “I think we feel equal for once. We feel that we’re the same as anyone else and it’s a great feeling.” Bloodgood said. “It’s almost indescribable.”