HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – Outside Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg Wednesday, two ministers debated an issue that was not before President Judge Dan Pellegrini, who is a former Pittsburgh City Solicitor.
“And so its husband and wife. It’s been that way, sister, for 6,000 years,” argued Evangelical Pastor William Devlin of Montgomery County.
“And you know what?” replied interfaith minister Stephanie Carter of Ardmore, Pa. “People have been on this earth for more than 6,000 years.”
“You’re going to argue with God?” said Devlin. “I can’t argue with God. It’s Adam and Eve; marriage is defined as between a man and a woman.”
“Well, guess what?” countered Carter. “I’m married. I did it. Aug. 7, 2013. I’ve been marrying folks for over 10 years.”
But the narrow issues in court today include whether Montgomery County officials have the authority to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples even though the current Pennsylvania law defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office of General Counsel told reporters, “If you set a precedent where individual local officials all across Pennsylvania can decide for themselves on any issue just because they make an interpretation of constitutionality then you do have chaos.”
However, Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, the top-elected official in a county where the licenses have been issued told reporters this: “There’s no chaos in Montgomery County. In fact, I think some of the chaos that exists, exists within the committed same-sex couples who are simply striving to get the same rights that my wife and I enjoy and our children enjoy.”
One of the questions asked by the judge was whether Montgomery County could rely on a verbal opinion of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane rather than a formal one regarding Pennsylvania’s marriage law.
And those who’ve already had ceremonies with Montgomery County licenses are anxious for a decision, which ultimately could end up in another court anyway.
Judge Pellegrini would not be specific as to when he would rule. He just said he would rule as soon as he could.