John Kandray and Bill Gray of Pittsburgh have been together for 11 years and were one of several same-sex couples to obtain a marriage license from Montgomery County.
On Monday night the two were wed in a ceremony officiated by Braddock Mayor John Fetterman. But a state law is in place that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
“I’m urging Gov. Tom Corbett to tear down this law and replace it with marriage equality for all Pennsylvanians,” Fetterman said. “The law just has no place in 2013.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the state law following a Supreme Court ruling that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has said she will not defend the law, instead leaving that up to Governor Corbett.
Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that does not allow same-sex marriage or civil unions.
“It’s a stain on our state that it enshrines discrimination in our constitution, and here’s a perfect opportunity to tear it down and rectify the situation,” Fetterman said.
Lawyers in the case believe it is ultimately bound for the U.S. Supreme Court. Recent polls indicate that opinions on same-sex marriage are shifting to more people being in favor of it. Fetterman said he hopes that one day it will be a non-issue.
“I want to get to the point where it’s not a gay marriage, it’s just a marriage,” he said. “It’s two people that love each other and they get to sit with family and their mom gets to cry and they get to profess their love for each other.”
Meanwhile, demand among same-sex couples for marriage licenses from Montgomery County shows no sign of slacking. A spokesman said 16 same-sex couples were issued marriage licenses Monday. As of the end of that day, a total of 78 same-sex couples had received licenses, of those 21 have gotten married and filed certificates in the county’s Register of Wills office.
The state Department of Health has requested that Montgomery County stop issuing the licenses.
State Commonwealth Court said it will schedule arguments after briefs are filed. The state must file its brief by August 12, and the county must file by August 19. No judge has been assigned to the matter yet.