Same-sex couples flood Marriage License Bureau

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The Allegheny County Marriage License Bureau was a popular destination Wednesday.

The office, on the first floor of the City-County Building, Downtown, saw 130 marriage license applications filed on the first day same-sex couples could apply, far more than the 30 the office typically handles on an average day in May, said county spokeswoman Amie Downs.

The county does not have a breakdown of how many of those applications were from couples of the same gender, although the day saw a steady stream of same-sex couples eager to wed.

The office has been busy all week. There were 160 applications filed online Tuesday, the day when U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled that Pennsylvania's Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. His decision meant that same-sex marriages performed in other states were immediately recognized here, and that same-sex partners in Pennsylvania could receive marriage licenses.

The marriage license process in Allegheny County can begin online but requires an in-office visit to complete. The county's Marriage License Bureau was closed Tuesday for Election Day but opened Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., when a line of four same-sex couples had already formed.

Ms. Downs said the process went smoothly. Throughout Wednesday morning, couples could be seen entering the doors of the license bureau on the first floor of the City-County Building.

Also, the first day for applications came on a Wednesday, the day the marriage bureau typically has longer hours, so couples were able to visit the office until 7:30 p.m.

Most who applied for their license will receive it Tuesday, after the state's three-day waiting period and the Memorial Day holiday.

But two female couples who visited the office Wednesday also applied for, and received, waivers from Common Pleas Judge Lawrence J. O'Toole so they could skip the usual waiting period.

Jess Garrity and Pamela VanHaitsma of Friendship, who by coincidence had a wedding celebration Saturday, received a waiver due to their "extraordinary circumstances" and were married by District Judge Hugh McGough in his Squirrel Hill courtroom Wednesday afternoon. The other couple hasn't been identified.

Kaitlynn Riely: or 412-263-1707. First Published May 22, 2014 1:05 PM

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