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Same-Sex Couples Line Up For Marriage Licenses

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

In his decision Judge John Jones wrote, "same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized in the Commonwealth."

KDKA's Mary Robb Jackson Reports:

This morning, same-sex couples lined up at the City-County Building to apply for marriage licenses. Pamela Van Haitsma and Jess Garrity were first in line.

"Amazing. I thought there would be more people here, but we realized we were first. It's great," Garrity said.

In a chance coincidence, the couple unofficially tied the knot on Saturday at a ceremony with family and friends.

"What it means is if Jess moves somewhere with me, she can be covered by my benefits," Van Haitsma said.

Rob Sauritch and Bill Rushlander have been waiting 13 years for this day.

"We feel like it's about time. We're not less than. We're people, equal citizens and equality is a good thing," Sauritch said.

KDKA's Mary Robb Jackson Reports:

They said a piece of paper won't change their relationship, but it will make it complete.

"It's kind of hard to believe it's here this quick. Pennsylvania was so behind the times and all of a sudden, it's happened like a snap. We're just trying to take advantage of it before the door closes all of a sudden," Bill Rushlander said.

Couples may also apply for marriage licenses online here. About 160 applications were filled out overnight in Allegheny County.

Last night, about 1,000 people filled Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside for a rally organized by the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh.

KDKA's Trina Orlando Reports:

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald joined the KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway to discuss the first day of issuing same sex marriage licenses. The offices Fitzgerald oversees are the ones that will administer the licenses.

Fitzgerald says they are ready.

"We actually became ready [Tuesday]when all the county offices were closed for Election Day, we began the online processing," he said. "Now, same-sex couples will go through the same process that a man and a woman went through for decades."

There is only a small change the county will have to make to their marriage forms.

"We just have to adjust the forms a little bit because the forms say 'bride and groom' and we're going to have to change the forms to 'party 1 and party 2,'" Fitzgerald said.

Gov. Tom Corbett says he will study the ruling and then decide whether or not he is going to appeal.

Fitzgerald says he hopes he doesn't.

"I think it's not only the right thing to do to allow same-sex partners to marry and have the same rights as others, but economically it sends a signal that we're open and welcoming as a state," he said.

Fitzgerald Says County Is Ready To Issue Same Sex Licenses

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