This isn’t a rant about the merits, rights or wrongs of same-sex marriage. The whole issue of same-sex marriage I believe is a personal one that shouldn’t be anyone else’s business.
This is a rant about a governmental body taking on the state of Pennsylvania where the law says it’s not legal to issue marriage licenses to those of the same sex.
But according to a story from our sister paper The Times-Herald, Montgomery County made history today by issuing the first two same-sex marriage licenses in Pennsylvania.
According to the Times-Herald, Loreen M. Bloodgood, 40, and Alicia A. Terrizzi, 45, both of Pottstown, were married hours after Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphans Court D. Bruce Hanes, granted a marriage license, just after 8 a.m. They have been in a relationship for 18 years and came in with two school-age boys, said Hanes.
Hanes said he waived the three-day waiting period — typical of all marriage licenses — for the Pottstown couple because they were leaving the area soon and wanted to expedite their wedding. Waivers of the sort are at the discretion of the Clerk of the Orphan’s Court.
Sasha Esther Ballen, 38, and Diana Lynn Spagnuolo, 39, both of Wynnewood, came in not long after and were granted a marriage license.
“I think we feel equal, for once. I think we feel the same as everybody else and it’s a great feeling. It’s almost indescribable,” said Bloodgood.
“We think it’s really important to show our children that we are a family and we just like their friends who have moms and dads. It’s important for us to stand up for what we believe in.”
“We weren’t really planning on being the first people. I thought there was going to be a giant line here. I guess we are kind of trendsetters.”
“We’ve been a family for 18 years and we’re no different from anybody else and finally it’s recognized,” said Terrizzi.
“It doesn’t make any difference to us. Nothing is going to change, but now we’re going to have a piece of paper so everyone else recognizes. It means a lot.”
“I knew, driving in, that we could have a line around the block,” said Hanes.
“When I was sworn in in January 2008, I was sworn to uphold the constitution of this commonwealth, and my understanding of that requires me to do just that. There are three sections of the commonwealth’s constitution that jump out at you … they talk about equality, regardless of gender. They talk about essential civil rights. Nobody should be denied a civil right, especially based on sex.”
So I suppose the question is who gave Hanes the authority to issue these licenses? Was this a decision he made on his own? Who in the county government made the call? This is important because surely this whole matter will end up in the courts somewhere, sometime and the taxpayers will be on the hook for legal costs. I am one of those taxpayers and while my personal belief is one thing my standing as a citizen is another. I don’t believe this was a wise decision on the part of the county.
The Times-Herald story states that County Board of Commissioners’ Chairman Josh Shapiro and Vice Chairwoman Leslie Richards — both Democrats — support Hanes’ decision and called it a historic day for Montgomery County. Republican Commissioner Bruce L. Castor, Jr. has said it is not appropriate for the board to weigh in on such matters, as the commissioners’ office is a separate entity from county row offices.
So while Shapiro and Richards support Hanes’ decision, who in Norristown gave the go-ahead? That is a question that needs an answer.
I believe if the county wished to buck the system it needed to do it the right way – through legislation, lobbying, etc., and not some arbitrary decision by someone sitting in the courthouse or One Montgomery Plaza.
Answers please. Answers.
— Andy Hachadorian