Same-Sex Couples Receive Marriage Licenses In Montco - New York News

Same-Sex Couples Receive Marriage Licenses In Montco

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. -

Same-sex couples are heading to Montgomery County to receive a marriage license, after a potentially controversial decision by the county's Register of Wills.

That Register of Wills, D. Bruce Hanes, announced yesterday that he would grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. He considered it a fundamental question of constitutional equality.

"This, to me, is a fundamental issue, a civil rights issue, and that's how I come to my conclusion," says Register of Wills D.B. Hanes.

Today, the first customers arrived for their paperwork.

With plenty of reporters and camera crews on hand to record the historic moment, several same-sex couples came to the Montgomery County courthouse to get their marriage licenses.

Charlene Kurand and Ellen Sue Toplin seemed taken aback by all the hoopla surrounding their newly issued Montgomery County marriage license.

"We didn't expect this," says one. "Did not expect this!" the other agrees. "They said there's going to be press there, so, oh, we would have dressed up!"

Another pair came to Norristown from Philadelphia, Marcus Saitschenko and Jim Goldstein. They've been a couple for 22 years and had actually held a ceremony years ago.

But this, was different.

"We exchanged vows to one another and we hold ourselves out as married. This is just a matter of whether or not the state's going to recognize our equality, our ability to be married like any other citizen," says

Montgomery County is the first jurisdiction in Pennsylvania to grant same-sex marriage licenses, so this is uncharted territory.

In fact, Marcus and Jim were taken aback when the clerk asked which one of them was going to sign the paperwork as the wife.

Turns out, there's a space for husband, and a space for wife.

So now that they have the license, what does it really mean?

It's not clear that these marriage licenses are anything more than symbolic, for now.

Pennsylvania still bans same-sex marriage, but the issue is the subject of a court battle, and state Attorney General Kathleen Kane has said she will not defend that law.

"We think this is clearly an issue in flux. We think this is clearly a murky issue. And in that case, Montgomery county is stepping in and standing out and speaking out firmly in saying that we support marriage equality," says County Commissioner Josh Shapiro.

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