By Jenn Miller
Inside the mayor’s office on the third floor of the State College Borough Building, two women exchanged vows and became spouses.
Mayor Elizabeth Goreham officiated her first same-sex marriage ceremony Tuesday morning with Rebecca Sellers and Kimberly Sellers, who both were born and raised in the State College area.
“It feels great. It feels really good. I think for couples who have been together for a long time … there’s just something special about it,” Goreham said after the emotional ceremony.
The women have been in a relationship for five years and engaged for four years. They have one daughter.
“It’s very special because we didn’t have to go somewhere else to get married,” says Rebecca. “There are still many people who can’t do what we did today, unfortunately. We’re still waiting for the rest of America to catch up.”
Last year, as Montgomery County officials went against the state’s ban and issued same-sex marriage licenses, Goreham announced she would marry same-sex couples with a license. It was around the same time she hosted a same-sex wedding ceremony in her home. However, Goreham was forced to back off that statement as borough officials reminded her she was obligated to follow Pennsylvania laws.
But it was a federal judge’s recent decision that allowed Goreham to conduct Tuesday’s ceremony. Goreham says she respects religions that are opposed to same-sex marriage, “but I also feel it’s a civil right.”
Rebecca says she and her wife reached out to Goreham to perform the ceremony after seeing news reports about Goreham’s stance on the issue.
“I’ve been following her support of this for some time now. It just seemed right to find someone who holds a prominent office and is so outspoken and supportive of this,” Rebecca says.
Judge John E. Jones III with the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania declared last week the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who is running for re-election, said in a statement he will not appeal the decision.
Centre County officials began making same-sex marriage licenses available Wednesday — one day after a brief controversial decision not to issue them the day the judge issued the ruling. As of Tuesday morning, the Clerk of Orphans’ Court had issued 11 same-sex marriage licenses.
“I’m just so happy that I finally get to be married to the person I’m in love with,” says Kimberly.
The couple plans to have a reception with family this summer. Goreham has another same-sex wedding slated for June.