The Phoenix Reporter & Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Limerick couple issued first same-sex marriage license in Pennsylvania


By Frank Otto, fotto@21st-centurymedia.com

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

NORRISTOWN — Around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, the first same-sex couple in Pennsylvania’s history officially married in the presence of their children.
Alicia Terrizi and Loreen Bloodgood, of Limerick, married after their license was filed and approved at 8 a.m. in the Montgomery County Courthouse.
“Unless you’re in the military, normally there’s a three-day holding period but I guess with how sensitive this matter is they were willing to give them their license,” said Craig Andrussier, a non-denominational minister who officiated the couple’s ceremony.
Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphans Court D. Bruce Hanes said he issued Terrizzi and Bloodgood their license early because they said they were leaving the area soon.
Andrussier said he normally sends the license through the mail but went to the courthouse himself to make sure everything went through.
“I was pulled back by the clerk and watched him stamp (the license) himself,” said Andrussier, who is based out of Lansdale.
Tuesday, a couple who was not named, applied for a marriage license but decided against it over the possibility of a lawsuit challenging state law.
A 17-year-old law only recognizes marriages between men and women and does not provide for same-sex marriages or civil unions.
The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the law.
Another couple followed Terrizi and Bloodgood in marriage. Sasha Esther Ballen and Diana Lynn Spagnuolo, of Wynnewood, who have been together for 17 years, also received a marriage license Wednesday.
Andrussier said he’s in favor of any couples getting married, regardless of their sex.
“If two people love each other and want to spend their lives together, it should be allowed,” he said.
Terrizzi and Bloodgood called him Wednesday morning to ask if he’d officiate their ceremony and stressed that they’d be the state’s first same-sex couple.
He said he didn’t know them prior to Wednesday and that they found him on the internet.
“I’ve done same-sex commitment ceremonies, gone to other states, done the ceremony for other couples,” he said.
Meeting the couple at a private location, he married them around 10:45 in the presence of their children.
According to Boyertown Junior High West’s website, Terrizzi teaches math to seventh graders there. A Linkedin profile, Bloodgood works at GlaxoSmithKline as an organizational development consultant.
Bloodgood is listed as the groom and Terrizzi is the bride, according to county documents.
“It’s not something unexpected to me,” said Joseph Carcione, who helps run the Chester County chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays with his wife, Lynda. “I think a lot of couples would like to see themselves married someday.”
Currently, anyone applying for a license for a same-sex couple in Chester County is being turned down.
“At this time, same sex marriage is illegal n the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Chester County Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans Court Terri Clark. “I was elected to uphold the laws of the commonwealth.”
She said her office would not and has not issued licenses to same-sex couples.
Over the past year, Clark said she has gotten several license applications but rejected them on the basis of the state’s current law.
No same-sex couples have applied in Chester County for a license Tuesday or Wednesday.
“I really think the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is opening up a lot of legal challenges for the states that have not passed same-sex marriage laws right now,” Carcione said.
Under DOMA, the U.S. does not recognize gay marriage even in states where it is legalized.
At the end of last month, the United States Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional.
“We have had countless people coming through our support group meetings that are not just family or friends but who are actually in committed same-sex relationships themselves who would love to get married,” Carcione said.
Carcione’s son got married approximately five years ago to his partner in the District of Columbia and now lives in Maryland, where his marriage is recognized.
Andrussier indicated he understood the importance of the marriage and said he was given a copy of the license, which he plans to keep in a special place.
“I’m kind of hoping this will open the eyes and minds and doors of the state,” Andrussier said.
Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.