PA county conducts gay marriage, says state ban invalid post-DOMA

In a quite interesting move, officials in the third-largest county in Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, have defied a statewide ban on gay marriages, conducting the state’s first “legal” gay marriage.

There’s an adorable photo of the couple, Loreen Bloodgood and Alicia A. Terrizzi, with their kids over at the local Pennsylvania paper.

The county officials made their decision to move ahead with the marriage of a lesbian couple after determining that the Supreme Court’s recent decision in US v. Windsor, striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), gave them the authority to do so.

marriage-is-love-phao

Now, one could argue that that’s a bit of a stretch, but the county officials aren’t totally wrong, I suspect. Meaning, I think that the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling very likely invalidates state-based DOMAs. The problem is that you usually need a court to make that official, rather than local election officials making the call. That’s not to say that I oppose what the local officials did – I love me some civil disobedience. But I suspect we’re going to need a lawsuit to overturn the statewide DOMA first and/or challenge state election law that says marriage is between a man and a woman.

Interestingly, the Miami Herald had reported yesterday that the wedding was put on hold after the couple in question talked to the ACLU, whose attorneys had advised them not to proceed. Apparently, these test cases have been tried before, where local officials conducts marriages, and it hasn’t worked in the past.

I’m working on another post about this larger question – of when and how to pick the right legal civil disobedience, that I’ll hopefully post later today or in the morning.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Gary

    The 5 couples for which marriage licenses were issued may be revoked, but it will lead to a Federal case quicker and that is a good thing. I am sure that any couple who is getting these licenses know all the possibilities. I am sick of the infighting, I am straight and I am tired of it. There is no reason why all cases can’t be filed. There is no reason that an activist can only support one cause. Fight the fight you are interested in , and let other fight for what they think is right. More will be accomplished that way.

  • Gary

    Full faith and credit is the exact Constitutional provision that the court would use. Comity may also be in there somewhere, but when and or if the SCOTUS rules it will be to strike down DOMA based of Full Faith and Credit.

  • Gary

    Have you ever heard of snark? or maybe sarcasm? It was funny for those of us who have a sense of humor.

  • Gary

    Okay, being denied and license is one way to have “standing” in court. By this brave county giving licenses they also give those who get them and use them “standing” for the courts. You may be right that a court may end up deciding this, but the people who do try to go to court must have standing to be there. This will speed up the process.

    This is one area that I agree that national organizations fall down. Here is an excerpt from the story in the local paper about what the ACLU said:

    Molly Tack-Hooper, staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania,
    applauded the county’s decision to issue the licenses, but said the ACLU
    did not advise Tuesday’s couple “one way or the other as to whether
    they should get a marriage license” – but simply gave them fair warning
    of what could happen.

    “In other states, government officials issued marriage licenses
    before the restriction was overturned by a court, similar to what the
    Register of Wills is doing here,” said Tack-Hooper.

    “In those other states, courts later ruled that the government
    officials didn’t have the authority to issue the marriage licenses and
    invalidated many of those marriages.”

    In other words it is not the time to do this, and we will not be there
    to help you. That is all fine and well, but there will be other groups
    that are there. I know that the ACLU and other nation wide groups have a limited amount of cash, so they can not be everywhere and do it all at once, but to guide folks not to get a license when it is available is just wrong.

  • EdA

    Some Pennsylvanians have already shared their wedding licenses on Joemygod!

    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2013/07/jmg-readers-get-marriage-license-from.html#disqus_thread

    Best to them, and to others, and let the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania try to invalidate their marriages.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    The courts are where this needs to happen, because we know damned well Congress won’t act, especially not with one house in the hands of the GOP and the Dems generally too timid to act whenever they do have majorities. Moreover, only through the courts will we see the state-level DOMAs overturned and the modern-day gay/lesbian equivalent of Loving v. Virginia at some point.

    But the cases need to start now and begin their years-long course through the courts, because eventually it’ll end up with the Supremes having to make the big push.

  • mpeasee

    …great analysis!

  • Butch1

    ;-)

  • sdguppy

    I don’t see how any state bans will hold after DOMA was declared invalid because it treated gay people differently.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The main thing is to keep up the pressure and let the bigots and their panderers know that without equality there is no chance for social peace.

    Let the dominoes tumble.

  • Tatts

    What in god’s name does that have to do with this story? You have created a preposterous scenario–based on no precedent–and run off to fantasy land with it and tacked it on this story. That scenario wouldn’t even make sense attached to the DailyKos story. Sheesh.

  • Tatts

    Montgomery County is suburban Philadelphia, and it, along with the other neighboring suburban counties, has turned significantly bluer in the past decade’s elections (from leaning red). One of the 3 Montgomery County Commissioners–the only Republican and former county District Attorney–has said he will not oppose the move as a Commissioner. He thinks that the Recorder of Wills is wrong in thinking that the state law is invalidated, but he’s not going to try to stand in the way.

    Small steps.

  • JakeOrlando

    Very, very brave. And moral. Let’s remember that “In Re Marriage Cases”, the cases that legalized marriage equality by the California Supreme Court were direct descendants from the unilateral action now-Lietuenant Governor Gavin Newsom made in San Francisco. It took four years to resolve, but marriage equality would have never originally been legal in California without unilateral action.

    Hats off to these county officials. It only takes a few to stand up for what’s right and start a conversation.

  • FLL

    If Uncle Zeke and Aunt Hattie are feeling suicidal because of the prospect of nationwide marriage equality, it might just be Billy Joe McAllister’s revenge. All three of them are from Leflore County, Mississippi. Poetic justice.

  • http://buddybest.tripod.com/index.html BuddyNovinski

    Does Billy Joe MacAllister know about this? (Joke: Bobbie Gentry song in 1967)

  • FLL

    I live in Fort Lauderdale and grew up in Chicago, but honestly, my maternal grandmother really is from the Deep South. She left for Chicago when she was 18 (along with a couple of her sisters) and never went back, even for visits. I have photographs of her when she was young, and she loved wearing red dresses. Apparently the Deep South isn’t for everyone.

  • samizdat

    All I can say is this: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Suck it, you retrograde religionist rebrobates! Bring on the lawsuits! (File under: this is gonna be fun)

  • cole3244

    if things don’t improve they will be forced to like it or not.

  • http://poodyheads.wordpress.com/ zorbear

    I think they’re all on Instagram…oh, wait — you meant…never mind…
    :-D

  • Julien Pierre

    Yes, they do indeed.

  • Julien Pierre

    Actually, out of state marriage are supposed to be recognized under the principle of comity, not Full Faith & Credit clause of the constitution.

    Of course, the state DOMAs such as the one in PA claim to make recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages illegal, too.

  • Butch1

    Yeaaaa. Some where there are people that still have some cojones.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    “You can’t find it on any map,” For some reason that brings up one of my favorite films: “Big Fish.”

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Unfortunately, civil disobedience just gives cops a chance to practice their sadistic and play with the new high TEC pain toys. I hope this generation has the balls to press forward like we once did.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Ann Arbor!

  • Thom Allen

    I wonder if this will cause the semi-automatic totin’ PA sheriff Mark Kessler, to invade Montgomery County, that stronghold of unconstitutional libtards? Kessler, and his backwoods hamlet (think Pennsyltucky) seem to have some mental health issues. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/24/1226266/-Crackpot-PA-police-chief-makes-good-case-for-town-quarantine

  • voltronforce

    I wish my county would do this in Michigan. I live in a liberal controlled county.

  • cole3244

    non violent civil disobedience is a good thing, once the ball gets rolling it will be hard to stop.

  • MyrddinWilt

    The ACLU might have another case in which they are attempting to establish a precedent that some other county has to issue a marriage license. That would kind of be kiboshed by this other county granting one.

  • MyrddinWilt

    The problem here is that the actions of the county officials don’t establish a binding precedent. The state can simply ignore the marriage, they are not obliged to do anything to unrecognize it.

    One of the odd features of marriage is that the only parties that are actually affected are the parties themselves and the state (which may be required to give favorable tax treatment). Which is one of the reasons the Prop-hate bigots lost.

    I have been married for 14 years and the only time I have ever needed to show proof of being married was to get my permanent resident status.

    The state could object when they file their taxes only they have no way to know which state the couple married in and the full faith and credit clause requires all states to recognize out of state marriages regardless of whether they are legal in state. PA could attempt to dispute that, but that would create exactly the type of circumstance where they were likely to establish a precedent to the opposite effect.

  • FLL

    The Pennsylvania attorney general and the Pennsylvania governor are of different parties. The attorney general is a Democrat, and she recently refused to defend Pennsylvania’s mini-DOMA. That leaves the ball in the Republican governor’s court. Governor Corbett has not yet said whether he’ll defend the law, but it’s considered most likely that he will in deference to the right-wing constituents who dominate the Pennsylvania Republican Party. If the governor defends the mini-DOMA, it invalidates the marriage license just issued, but it also means the governor’s general counsel must defend the law before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which will probably rule in favor of marriage equality. After that, it’s off to the U.S. Supreme Court… again.

  • Jeff Jankowiak

    Nicho…I agree with you. It is a shame these women will be disappointed when the marriage licenses are revoked. This has happened before. The conservatives will find this easy pickings because the law is on the books and the Governor will be pressed to take action. These are brave people. I wonder why the ACLU asked the two doctors not to get married? I am wondering if they fear a setback in the federal case .

  • nicho

    It has to start somewhere. If you wait for spineless bought-and-paid-for legislators, you’re going to wait a long time.

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