May 23, 2014 at 11:51 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Same-sex couples begin to marry in Pa.
Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, gay news, Washington Blade, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is expected to marry several gay and lesbian couples on Friday after a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gays and lesbians have begun to marry in Pennsylvania after a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that District Judge Hugh McGough on Wednesday married Jess Garrity and Pamela VanHaitsma of Pittsburgh after they received a waiver allowing them to forgo the three-day waiting period between the time a couple receives a marriage license and they can exchange vows under state law.

The newspaper said the women were the first same-sex couple in Allegheny County to receive a marriage license after U.S. District Judge John Jones, III, on Tuesday struck down Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban.

Ashley and Lindsay Wilson exchanged vows on the steps of Philadelphia Museum of Art just after midnight on Friday as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Eight same-sex couples exchanged vows at Philadelphia City Hall on Friday.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is expected to officiate same-sex weddings this weekend.

“As elected officials, we must represent the interests of all of our constituents — every person, every family and every life,” said Nutter in a statement after Jones issued his ruling. “In Philadelphia, the birthplace of democracy, and Pennsylvania, a state founded on the basic tenets of tolerance, we all benefit when the rights of a group are attained or reaffirmed.”

Rue Landau, chair of the Philadelphia Human Rights Commission, and her partner, Kerry Smith, on May 20 became the first same-sex couple in Philadelphia to receive a marriage license — they applied for it shortly after Jones issued his ruling.

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Rue Landau and Kerry Smith receive a marriage license in Philadelphia on May 20. (Photo by Ben Bowens)

The Philadelphia Register of Wills told the Washington Blade on Friday it has thus far issued 102 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

An Allegheny County spokesperson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that 160 marriage license applications had been filed by midnight on May 20. She said only 29 had been filed the day before.

Pennsylvania is among the 19 states and D.C. in which same-sex couples can legally marry.

Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday announced he will not appeal Jones’ ruling.

North Dakota is the only state in which same-sex couples cannot marry where gays and lesbians have yet to file a lawsuit seeking marriage rights since the U.S. Supreme Court last June struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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