Beaver County legally married its first same-sex couple today.
I am proud to report that my life partner of nearly 16 years and I were officially married today during a hastily organized civil ceremony officiated in front of the fountain at Penn State Beaver Campus in Center Township.
We were one of several same-sex couples who had applied for a marriage license today in the Beaver County Register of Wills’ Office. Register of Wills Carol Ruckert Fiorucci announced she would be providing marriage applications to gay couples in response to a ruling handed down by a federal judge late yesterday afternoon that declared Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional.
Pennsylvania had the legal option of appealing yesterday’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who had previously refused to defend the state’s statute banning same-sex marriages, quickly announced she would not be appealing the ruling. But Governor Tom Corbett remained silent yesterday and this morning as to his intentions.
There is a mandatory three day waiting period in Pennsylvania before couples who fill out marriage applications can be granted a license. With governmental offices closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday, the first day same-sex couples could have hoped to be legally married by Beaver County was on Tuesday, May 27th.
After completing our marriage application, my partner and I feared the possibility that Governor Corbett may appeal the ruling overturning the ban on same-sex marriages, and feared the appeals court may then issue an emergency injunction preventing us from getting our marriage license. We decided to petition the Beaver County courts asking for a waiver of the 3 day waiting period under a provision of law granting judges such discretion in “extraordinary circumstances.”
In keeping with standard practices developed through the years when issuing waivers for opposite-sex marriages, the local court granted our request, and shortly before 4:00pm we became the first same-sex couple to be issued a marriage license by Beaver County.
We quickly gathered together a small handful of family and friends and were legally married during a short but beautiful civil ceremony in which we dedicated our lives to one another. It was a promise we had already kept to each other for nearly 16 years living together as a couple, now renewed with our newly found rights and responsibilities granted by law.
Governor Tom Corbett has announced he will not be appealing Judge John E. Jones’ ruling — we will all now be seeing more same-sex couples getting married by Beaver County in the coming days.