This Gay Couples' State Wouldn't Marry Them — So Their County Did

Despite a ban on gay marriage in Pennsylvania, one county is defying a law that has been in place since 1996 and allowing same-sex couples to get married. In Montgomery County, Pa. yesterday, four lesbian couples and one gay couple received licenses to marry in Norristown, the county seat. 

According to the Allentown Morning Call, Loreen M. Bloodgood and Alicia A. Terrizzi of Pottstown, Pa. were the first in line to apply. They then went with their two sons to a park in North Wales and took their vows before a licensed nondenominational minister, Craig Andrussier. Andrussier returned to file the license with an expedited request, an apparent reaction to the legally fraught wedding. "It was short and sweet, just to get it on the record," Andrussier said. They wanted to get the paperwork finalized "before anything was hastily thrown out."

The individual responsible for standing up to the ban is a certain D. Bruce Hanes, the county's register of wills. "I decided to come down on the right side of history and the law," Hanes told the Inquirer. Hanes may be bolder than some of the couples themselves: The Pottstown, PA Mercury adds that last week two women approached Hanes. Though he was about to issue them a license, the couple decided against it for "reasons of their own," he said.

They were probably concerned about a pending lawsuit challenging the state law. Less than two weeks ago, the American Civil Liberties Union, following the declaration of DOMA as unconstitutional, filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, naming Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Gov. Tom Corbett as defendants. “While Mr. Hanes and his office were ready and willing to issue the first same-sex marriage license in the history of Pennsylvania, my clients 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,” said their attorney, Michael J. Diamondstein. 

While County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., the lone Republican on the board of county commissioners, invoked politics, saying the attorney general's involvement in the case was a way of "throwing a hot potato in the governor's lap right before re-election," those opposed to the same-sex marriage ban instead invoked the love and happiness between these couples that is finally recognized by the law. In the face of such lovely families, such cynicism certainly seems brittle and ready to give way.

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Rachel Pincus

I recently graduated from Wesleyan University. My interests include the environment, technology and feminism.

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