State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham hosts same-sex marriage ceremony performed by local pastor

jvanderk@centredaily.comAugust 19, 2013 

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Gregory Scalzo, left, and Joseph Davis, of Bushkill, hold their marriage license after being married in Mayor Elizabeth Goreham’s State College home. The men obtained their marriage license in Montgomery County on Thursday and were married Monday.

NABIL K. MARK — CDT photo Buy Photo

— Joseph Davis bought wedding rings for himself and his now-husband, Gregory Scalzo, a month after the two met in 2003.

“I knew,” Davis said. “I just said to him, someday. And that day is today.”

The couple, from Bushkill, Pike County, were married Monday morning at the home of State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham. They received a marriage license in Montgomery County on Thursday and immediately made arrangements for the ceremony.

Davis and Scalzo were married by the Rev. Ken Kline Smeltzer, from a local Church of the Brethren.

Montgomery County had issued 135 marriage licenses to same-sex couples as of Friday afternoon, according to spokesman Frank Custer. The Pennsylvania Department of Health is suing Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes because same-sex marriage remains against state law here.

For that reason, Goreham said she was advised by the borough not to officiate the marriage of Davis and Scalzo. She has said she would marry any couple who received a license in Montgomery County, but was advised that doing so would go against her oath of office and state law.

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the state law prohibiting same-sex marriage. Attorney General Kathleen Kane has said she will not defend the law.

“I’m not giving up,” Goreham said, adding that she will continue to host same-sex ceremonies until she is able to officiate. “I want to do this.”

Davis, 50 and Scalzo, 47, were the first to contact Goreham about her offer, though she said another couple has since been in touch.

Davis said he saw on Facebook that Montgomery County was issuing licenses and that Goreham was offering to officiate, so he contacted her immediately. He contacted her again Thursday once the men had secured the license.

“We set it up right away,” he said. “We went from the courthouse to rent our tuxes.”

They drove to State College early Monday morning.

Smeltzer offered a typed statement that said he performed the ceremony because he supports marriage equality and the men “are very much in love and obviously committed to each other,” though his denomination and local church do not approve of same-sex marriage.

Davis and Scalzo said they believe people will have the right to marry everywhere in the country, eventually.

“We just don’t want to wait that long,” Davis said.

“It will change,” Scalzo said. “I believe all the states will eventually recognize it. I know this will open up the door and that’ll be nice.”

But it was important to the couple that their marriage be recognized where they live. They know many people who have traveled to other states to be married.

“It was important that we were married here in Pennsylvania since we live here,” Davis said. “It’s something we should have anyway.”

The men smiled in their tuxedos and shiny, black shoes, holding their marriage license after the ceremony.

“It’s almost like a dream come true,” Scalzo said. “It’s become a reality after all these years. It’s hard to believe.”

The men planned to drive back to Montgomery County on Monday to register their marriage, then return to Bushkill. Friends are planning a reception for them Saturday.

They embraced Goreham in her living room, thanking her and promising to keep in touch.

“It’s very gratifying to me to participate in this day,” she said and, to Davis and Scalzo, “This has been a real pleasure to be with you.”

Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter.

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