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Mayor says she'll marry gay couples

By: Gary Sinderson and WJAC Web Staff

It's not new for same sex couples to ask for marriage licenses at the Centre County Register of Will's office.

"Every Valentine's Day, at least two gay couples...ask for licenses," said Michael Pipe, Centre County Commissioner.

Each time, those couples are shown a sign that hangs on the wall that tells them why they cannot get one: it's against Pennsylvania law.

Gay marriage is not banned by the state constitution, but a 1996 law defining marriage as between a man and woman effectively bans it.

Ten gay couples, including one from State College, recently filed a federal lawsuit, asking for that statute, known as the Defense of Marriage Act, to be struck down.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is responsible for defending the state when lawsuits such as this arise. But in a controversial move, she deferred that responsibility to the Office of General Counsel, saying she cannot defend a law she belies to be unconstitutional.

That lawsuit must now be defended by Gov. Tom Corbett's attorneys, who this week confirmed they would do just that.

In the meantime, the Register of Wills in Montgomery County cited Kane's stance on the Defense of Marriage Act to justify issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples there.

Officials in Centre County said that has prompted more phone calls at their office.

And now, there's talk of a lawsuit challenging the policy, although no paperwork has been filed.

On Thursday, State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham told 6 News she would have no problem conducting a same sex wedding.

"If you have a license, I will marry you," she said.

Goreham said she would honor licenses that are issued in Montgomery County.

Gov. Corbett's administration filed a lawsuit this week, seeking to stop the issuance of marriage licenses to gay couples.

So far, more than 30 gay couples have received one.

 
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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times

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