Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge on Tuesday, but State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham has been ahead of that curve for almost a year.
This past August, she hosted the first same-sex marriage in State College. Goreham initially said she would marry anyone with a valid license. As it turned out she didn’t perform any marriages, saying that would be a violation of her oath of office.
However, the same-sex marriage that took place at the mayor's home was still illegal in the state of Pennsylvania even though the couple obtained a license from Montgomery County. The licenses issued there were nullified after a few court battles.
But with Gov. Tom Corbett’s announcement that Tuesday's court decision will not be appealed, same-sex marriage will proceed unencumbered in Pennsylvania.
“I’m really delighted,” says Goreham, a second-term Democrat. “To me, it’s a matter of civil right and not religious faith.”
Goreham says she received a mixture of feedback when she hosted the same-sex marriage in August. She was in touch with the couple she hosted, Gregory Scalzo and Joseph Davis, on Tuesday.
“They were on pins and needles [Wednesday],” Goreham says. “They were overjoyed when it happened. We both feel that we helped in some small way, this whole effort, to designate the desire for marriage equality.”
Allison Subasic, the director of the LGBTA Resources Center at Penn State, says she hasn’t spoken to Goreham about the marriage she hosted, but calls it wonderful. She also notes that there has been a very positive response in State College.
“I’m a little surprised because it’s so consvervative in PA, but I’m very happy that it did pass and we weren’t one of the last states to do it,” Subasic said.
Goreham jokes that she didn’t know if the marriage she hosted was the first in Pennsylvania, but maybe it was the last illegal one.
“We’re very relieved and happy to be able to offer the same right to everyone now,” Goreham says.
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