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Marriage Decision Impacting County Offices

SCRANTON — Governor Tom Corbett said that he will not appeal a federal judge’s ruling allowing same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

Corbett said he believes a successful appeal is extremely unlikely.

In a statement the governor said:

“I continue to maintain the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. My duties as governor require that I follow the laws as interpreted by the courts. The court has spoken.”

Governor Corbett’s announcement is important news for each county government in Pennsylvania.

The judge’s decision to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage will stand, meaning the officials who handle marriage licenses will have to change the way they do things.

Workers in the marriage license bureau in Lackawanna County were already making adjustments Wednesday morning.

At the top of a Pennsylvania marriage license application, there’s a place for each half of the union to fill out labeled bride and groom. But that label doesn’t match every marrying couple in Pennsylvania anymore.

“The applications until we know what’s going to happen in 30 days? White out. Applicant one, applicant two,” explained Lackawanna County Register of Wills Frances Kovaleski.

The Register of Wills staff in Scranton spent the day after the same-sex marriage decision using white out to make the applications gender neutral.

No same-sex couples came into the office to apply, though two couples did apply online.

Kovaleski says she expects the state to permanently change the application form if the decision is made final next month.

“I don’t believe anyone should have to declare themselves, male, female. It doesn’t matter to me. I just think that applicant one and applicant two is the way to go.”

Doing away with the words bride and groom has members of the religious community in Lackawanna County divided

Bishop Joseph Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton said in a statement that the Catholic Church still sees marriage as being between a man and a woman, but:

“Catholic teaching is not a judgment about persons who experience same-sex attraction, but a statement about how the Church has always understood the nature of marriage itself.”

Across the street from the cathedral church of the diocese is St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, where interim priest Fr. Craig Sweeney saw the decision as a positive sign of things to come for Pennsylvania and the Church.

“Marriage, as far as I’m concerned, is just a contract made before witnesses and especially when they do it in the church, before God. And so, there’s no reason that I can think of that if two people are in love that they shouldn’t have that right,” said Fr. Sweeney.

According to officials in Lackawanna County, there’s a 30 day period that the federal judge’s decision can be appealed and then possibly changed. But the governor’s decision not to appeal means that the decision to legalize same sex marriage in Pennsylvania will not be reversed.


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