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Gay Marriage Question: Pennsylvania

Where can we Marry and have Pennsylvania Recognize our Marriage?


Gay Marriage Question: Pennsylvania
© Kathy Belge
Updated June 01, 2009
Can gay and lesbian couples get married and have it be recognized in Pennsylvania? Here is a letter I received from someone who wants to know.

Dear Kathy:
I've been reading a lot about getting married at city hall in San Francisco, CA. I know that for about a month gays were able to legally get married there. Then around March 2004 it was taken to court. Do you know what is going on with that? I haven't read anything recently.
My girlfriend and I would like to get married in another state, and come back to Pennsylvania and still be married. I know in Massachusetts you have to live there for four years.

Thanks in advance for all your help.


Gay Marriage in Pennsylvania

Dear Brittany
I'm sorry to say I don't have good news for you. Currently Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont (beginning September 1, 2009) and Maine (beginning mid-September 2009) are the only states with gay marriage. New York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples legally performed elsewhere.

You're right about San Francisco. On March 11, 2004 the California Supreme Court ordered San Francisco to stop issuing marriage licenses. The courts have also ruled that the more than 4,000 marriages that were performed in San Francisco are no longer valid. You can no longer get married in San Francisco.

Gay Marriage in Massachusetts

Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is one of the states that has a law specifically banning gay marriage. No matter where you marry, Pennsylvania will not recognize a same-sex marriage.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, Pennsylvania law states: “It is hereby declared to be the strong and longstanding public policy of this commonwealth that marriage shall be between one man and one woman. A marriage between person of the same sex which was entered into in another state or foreign jurisdiction, even if valid where entered into, shall be void in this commonwealth.”

The Human Rights Campaign is urging all couples seeking to get married to seek legal council.

For more information about marriage laws in specific states, check out HRC's web site.

Lesbian Wedding

Even though you and your partner will not receive the legal benefits of marriage in Pennsylvania, does not mean the two of you cannot have a ceremony of your own. For years, gay and lesbian couples have been planning meaningful weddings and commitment ceremonies. The law may not recognize it, but it is still powerful to stand up and state your commitment to one another before your family and friends.

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