Wednesday, May 21, 2014
From our reporter Alex Zimmerman who has been stationed at the City-County building today
Orphans court judge Lawrence O'Toole granted a waiver today for a same sex couple seeking to avoid the typical three-day waiting period required before a marriage license is issued.
The couple,Jess Garrity and Pamela VanHaitsma, were the first in line at the city-county building this morning at 7:30 a.m. applying for a marriage license.
The couple said they were seeking the waiver to avoid the possibility that an injunction or stay of Judge John Jones decision would keep them from being able to get married.
"Hopefully no appeal happens," says Garrity, "but if it does, hopefully we're considered married."
"I'm overwhelmed. Very excited. It's unbelievable," Garrity said immediately following the decision.
Their attorney, Sam Hens-Greco, said he's arguing that the state's historical denial of marriage rights, paired with their four and a half year relationship, constitutes an "extraordinary circumstance."
Typically, waivers are granted in cases involving severe illness or military deployment.
"They want to get married immediately ... To establish the benefits they're entitled to today," Hens-Greco said.
This is the first waiver granted in Allegheny County, says Sarah Lang, supervisor in the marriage license bureau.
According to the couple, O'Toole asked in jest if "they were sure they wanted to get married," then wishes them congratulations.
The couple plans to have magisterial district judge Hugh McGough officiate a civil ceremony, though they had a non-civil ceremony May 17.