Public reacts to same-sex marriages in Montgomery County

August 1, 2013 5:17:26 PM PDT
The Montgomery County commissioners held their first public meeting Thursday since the county started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The decision was made by the register of wills, D. Bruce Hanes, not the commissioners, but two of them - Chairman Josh Shapiro (D) and Vice Chairman Leslie Richards (D) applauded the move.

Also applauding the move were most of the 17 registered speakers.

"I would commend you and your register of wills for embarking on this most courageous journey," said Eileen DiFranco of the Journeys of the Heart Ministry.

Pennsylvania's law prohibits same sex marriage, but Hanes declared last week the equality wording in the state constitution trumps that law.

Supporters of his view spoke of marriage equality and how it can transform.

"To be able to say, after 29 years together, instead of referring to my partner as my life partner but to be able to use the word 'my husband,' said Glen Love of Lower Merion.

There was one dissenter among the speakers. Doris Smith Starks, of Norristown, "I am a Christian and Sunday school teacher."

She said her complaint was not based on scripture, but state law.

Starks said the law defines marriage "As a civil contract between a man and a woman who holds themselves out as husbands and wives."

She added, "So, has that law changed in Pennsylvania?"

Earlier this week, the administration of Governor Tom Corbett said Hanes had no authority to ignore that law.

Bruce Castor, the lone Republican commissioner, thinks Hanes is facing an uphill battle.

"I think we have gone about it the wrong way and Mr. Hanes created more of a mess than he is going to be able to clean up," Castor said.

All eyes are now on the commonwealth court, where Corbett's attorneys have asked for an order to stop Hanes.

So far, 49 marriage licenses have been issued to same sex couples.


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