Pennsylvania Mayor Officiates His County's First Gay Marriage

By Daniel Reynolds

Originally published on Advocate.com August 06 2013 12:59 PM ET

A west Pennsylvania mayor performed the first same-sex marriage in his county, despite the state lacking a marriage equality law.

John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, Pa., married Bill Gray and John Kandray in an intimate ceremony at the public official’s residence in Allegheny County. The couple had been together over 11 years and lived in the suburbs of Pittsburgh CBS Pittsburgh, reports.

“Showing our commitment to each other,” Gray said, “which we’ve been at that point for a long time, just now we can prove it.”

Gray and Kandray had obtained a marriage license from Bruce Hanes, the Register of Wills of Montgomery County, located on the eastern side of the state. Hanes has issued more than 60 marriage licenses to same-sex couples to date, in defiance of a law banning marriage equality in Pennsylvania. A state statute enacted in 1996 recognizes only those marriages between one man and one woman. The law also forbids the state from recognizing legal same-sex marriages performed in other states. 

That statute is being challenged in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 10 Pennsylvania couples who wish to marry, as well as a widow who recently lost her partner of nearly three decades. The lawsuit references the recent landmark Supreme Court rulings striking down a key section of the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and California's voter-approved ban on marriage equality, Proposition 8. 

“I just think it’s time people in Pennsylvania say, Mr. Corbett, you know, tear down this law,” said Fetterman, referring to Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania's governor. “DOMA is a fundamentally unjust piece of legislation.”