Some pretty cool stuff going on in Pennsylvania.
You've probably heard by now of the civil disobedience going in in Montgomery County, in suburban Philadelphia. If not, from S Kitchen's diary on the subject:
The story began to develop on July 23, when Montgomery County Registry of Wills Bruce Hanes issued a press release stating he would issue same-sex marriage licenses to anyone who walked into his office and requested one. In the Main Line News, Bruce Hanes explained his legal justification stating:
When I took the oath of office 19 months ago, I swore to uphold the U.S. and the Pennsylvania Constitutions. Article 1 Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, aptly entitled “Inherent rights of mankind,” says “all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which is “pursuing their own happiness.”
Article 1, Section 26 of the Constitution says, “Neither the Commonwealth nor any political subdivision thereof shall deny to any person the enjoyment of any civil right, nor discriminate against any person in the exercise of any civil right.”
These marriage licenses are still being dispensed by Montgomery County officials. Meanwhile, anti-gay haters have been screaming about lawlessness and anarchy, Governor Corbett has condemned the civil disobedience, and the Pennsylvania Health Department has filed a lawsuit against Hanes in order to stop the defiance of Pennsylvania's DOMA law (which Attorney General Kathleen Kane will not defend, leaving the defense to the Governor). But so far, the court has not stopped the marriage licenses from being distributed.
And now, the civil disobedience has spread all the way across the state, to Allegheny County (near Pittsburgh). This time, we have a mayor willing to disobey the law and marry same-sex couples. Mayor John Fetterman of Braddock may not be able to hand out licenses himself, but he has pledged to marry any same-sex couples who receives a license in Montgomery County. Mayor Fetterman explains his decision with a pretty awesome quote:
I just think it's time people in Pennsylvania say, Mr. Corbett, you know, tear down this law. DOMA is a fundamentally unjust piece of legislation.And yesterday, he performed the first same-sex wedding, marking the first time a gay couple has been married in Allegheny County.
John Kandray and Bill Gray, who have been together for eleven years, received their marriage license from Montgomery County and were wed in Braddock by Mayor Fetterman yesterday.
Kandray's logic is sound:
We pay the same taxes, we do everything the same, but we don't have the same rights. It felt like, you know what, let's stand up for ourselves and do this.Congrats to the happy couple, and to the other 45--and counting--gay and lesbian couples who have received marriage licenses from Montgomery County. And kudos to Mayor Fetterman for landing on the right side of history. Public opinion in Pennsylvania is very clearly on the side of equality, as explained in this excellent ad released by the Pennsylvania Democrats: