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Identity & Community

Same Sex Couples Apply for, are Denied Marriage Licenses on Valentine’s Day

Deanna Garcia
90.5 WESA

As delivery men carried large bouquets of roses to various offices at the City County Building  in downtown Pittsburgh on Valentine’s Day, supporters of same-sex marriage and several couples gathered to apply for marriage licenses.

“We know that they will be denied,” said Melissa Watson with the Allegheny County chapter of Marriage Equality for PA, “They will not be allowed to get them, but we hope to show Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh and Allegheny County that we’re ready.”

At 10:00 AM two couples arrived ready to apply for their marriage licenses. One of those couples was

Tamela and Colleen Arbaczewski. They were legally married in Massachusetts in October, but their marriage is not valid in Pennsylvania.

“Federally that already gives us a lot more benefits and protections under the law, but we want the same protections within our state,” said Tamela Arcbaczewski.

Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that does not recognize same sex marriage.

Heidi and Diane Anderson have been together for ten years and were married legally in New York State in 2012. Their union is not valid in Pennsylvania, so they are one of the couples applying for a marriage license on Valentine’s Day.

“So basically we are going to do our taxes this year and we’re going to be single on Pennsylvania, then we’re going to be married on federal and we’re going to be very confused,” said Heidi Anderson.

Heidi and Diane were the first couple to go in and apply for a marriage license. Though they knew they would be denied, and said the clerk was very nice about it and said she’d be happy to issue a license as soon as state law allows, the couple came out of the office noticeably more downbeat.

“One day we’ll have rights in Pennsylvania,” said Heidi, “just not today.”

More couples, both same-sex and heterosexual, were expected to apply for marriage licenses throughout the day. Marriage Equality for PA members and supporters stayed outside the marriage license office handing out Valentine candy and supporting all couples.

“It’s about everybody’s love,” said Watson, “love doesn’t have a gender and we can’t wait to share in matrimony the same way our heterosexual counterparts can.”

The Valentine’s Day Peaceful for Protest for Marriage Equality and License Our Love campaigns are part of nationwide efforts to push more states to legally recognize same sex marriage. Currently 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same sex marriage, and Thursday in Virginia, a federal judge struck down that state's ban on  same sex marriage.  32 states have laws or constitutional amendments defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.