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Same-sex couples obtain marriage licenses in Berks

By Liz Kilmer, Reporter, LKilmer@wfmz.com
Published On: May 21 2014 09:37:53 PM CDT
Updated On: May 21 2014 10:28:33 PM CDT

Same-sex couples in Berks County lined up for their marriage licenses throughout the day Wednesday, just 24 hours after a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex unions.

Same-sex couples in Berks County lined up for their marriage licenses throughout the day Wednesday, just 24 hours after a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex unions.

"I'm just excited," said Jasmin Melendez, of Reading, who will soon wed fiance Clarissa Castro. The couple, together for two years, were one of six couples issued a license by Larry Medaglia, Berks County Register of Wills, as of Wednesday afternoon.

Medaglia told 69 News that one couple even applied on Tuesday, just hours after Judge U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III ruled that all gay and lesbian couples be allowed marry, and all prior out-of-state same-sex unions be recognized in the Commonwealth.

"The ruling yesterday was awesome. It's something we've been waiting for for a long time," said Joseph Pelatzky, of Douglassville, who married his husband last year in Delaware, but had his name officially changed Wednesday in Berks.

"It's very important," Pelatzky told 69 News, "We've been together 20 years."

"There are going to be a lot of changes," said Medaglia. "This is going to… have a very broad affect across state and federal government and of course for employers."

That change is perhaps more of a sure bet, seeing that Governor Tom Corbett announced he would not appeal the ruling.

In a statement, Corbett said "the case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal," noting that he maintains "the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman."

The latter was a belief stressed by Sam Rohrer, President of both the Pennsylvania Pastors Network and the American Pastors Network, who also opposed Judge Jones' ruling from a political standpoint.

"When you have individuals who sit in the place of law, who are not in position of making law, but make law by their decisions, overturning what is the right of the states… as we've now seen… this is the definition of tyranny," said Rohrer.

Officials said a third party could still attempt to appeal the ruling.

In the meantime, same-sex couples across Pennsylvania are still planning to say "I do."

"Everybody better take advantage of this," said Castro.

"We're happy. That's it," said Melendez.

By state law, same-sex couples must wait three days to officially marry, although a judge can waive that waiting period.