Pennsylvania couple seek to validate wedding license issued by clerk before landmark ruling

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ERIE, Pennsylvania — Two northwestern Pennsylvania women want a judge to validate their marriage, the license for which was issued by a rogue county clerk before this year's landmark court decision that allowed gays to wed in the state.

Tiffany Jo Titus and Wendy Allison Titus were married in Erie County in August after obtaining a license from Montgomery County Orphans' Court Clerk D. Bruce Hanes. Hanes issued about 200 licenses last year after Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she wouldn't defend Pennsylvania's law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but before a federal judge eventually struck down the law in May, making same-sex marriage legal in Pennsylvania.

That decision by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ordered Pennsylvania to recognize same-sex marriages in other states. But it didn't address the legality of any same-sex marriages that occurred in Pennsylvania before his ruling, which is why the women want a judge to validate their marriage, the Erie Times-News reported Monday ( ).

The attorney for the women, Alison Scarpitti, said that leaves her clients in "limbo." Having the wedding validated would address their concerns about tax and health insurance benefits, but Scarpitti said their effort is about more than that.

"They stood before friends and family and said the same vows everybody else says. In a way, it is dehumanizing to say the commonwealth does not recognize that," Scarpitti said.

Erie County Judge Robert Sambroak Jr. has scheduled a Sept. 15 hearing on the petition. If the women don't prevail, Scarpitti said they might have to apply for another wedding license and get married again.

Scarpitti said she's sent notice to the governor's office, the attorney general and others who might wish to oppose the petition, but doesn't know whether anyone plans to fight it.

Information from: Erie Times-News,

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