Same sex couples across the Commonwealth began getting marriage licenses following Judge John Jones III ruling yesterday throwing out the state’s marriage ban as unconstitutional. I was at the Berks County Services Center this morning as a couple from Morgantown arrived promptly at 8AM for their license. Unwilling to state their names or go on the record because one of the female couple is unemployed and seeking work, they were joyous that after eight years together they can make their relationship legal and equal in the eyes of the law. One of the women said she has serious health issues and being able to provide for her health, their assets and property in case of the worst case happening is a comfort. Being legally married means her soon to be wife cannot be denied hospital visitation and is ensured of survivor rights and inheritance.
There are 1,039 federal rights which come with marriage, everything from being able to file joint tax returns to eligibility for Social Security survivor benefits. These have been denied to gay couples in Pennsylvania until yesterday.
Kurt German and Todd Gimbi were the second couple to arrive this morning. Both work in retail and heard the news from co-workers. They have been together for 25 years after meeting at an under 21 club in Wilkes-Barre. Todd said they fell in love at first sight and were ecstatic at being able to marry. He is originally from Hazleton and German from Wilkes-Barre. Both now live ad work in Reading.
Todd Gimbi (left) and Kurt German hold their newly received marriage license.