With Lifting of Same-Sex Marriage Ban, State College Man to Wed Fiancee
A State College transgender man says the lifting of a ban on same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania will allow him to legally marry his fiancée in Centre County.
Luke Roche, who has lived in State College since 2010, is a local banker and engaged to a Penn State graduate. The couple is planning a Victorian-themed wedding and had hopes of marrying in Bellefonte, which has a historic Victorian district.
A federal judge's decision Tuesday will allow the couple to see that dream come true.
"We were definitely overjoyed," Roche says.
Federal Judge John E. Jones III with the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania declared Tuesday the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who is in the process of seeking a second term, said in a statement Wednesday he will not appeal the decision.
Prior to this week's court decision, Roche and his fiancée were unsure they would be able to have their Victorian wedding in Bellefonte.
At one point, they thought they would have to wed in a state where same-sex marriage was legal. Then they pursued another idea -- using a loophole by changing Roche's gender on his passport.
Roche is a female to male transgender, so by changing his gender on his passport, technically he would be a male marrying a female and could possibly have obtained a marriage license in Centre County using the passport as his photo ID.
While the plan may have worked, Roche says he felt a little guilty about pursuing the loophole when other gay and lesbian friends didn't have the same opportunity to marry legally. But now, he's relieved it's no longer an issue.
"Now that the ban is lifted we feel less guilty," Roche says. "It's like a weight has been lifted off of our shoulders and now we can move forward with our wedding plans without any of that clouding our judgment."
Roche, who was born in Florida, say he and his fiancée decided to stay in State College because of it's small-town environment and accepting community.
"We both grew up in cities ... and here it's nice having that kind of homey feeling, having nice people all around you, having people accept you," says Roche. "Here I feel there's a lot more open-minded people than you would expect, especially for being in the country area."
Centre County officials began making same-sex marriage licenses available Wednesday after a brief controversial decision not to issue them. Gov. Corbett later issued a statement explaining he will not appeal the judge's decision.
While Corbett, a Roman Catholic, says he personally believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, he did not believe an appeal of this week's court decision would have been successful.
"Throughout the debate on this important and meaningful issue, I have maintained that Commonwealth officials and agencies would follow the provisions of Pennsylvania's marriage law unless or until a court says otherwise. The court has spoken, and I will ensure that my administration follows the provisions of Judge Jones' order with respect for all parties," says Corbett. "It is my hope that as the important issue of same-sex relationships continues to be addressed in our society, that all involved be treated with respect."