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Last updated: May 21. 2014 11:30PM - 5450 Views
By James O’Malley Times Leader Correspondent



Beth Hartman and Sharon Wall, partners of 18 years, share a rare public embrace (they hate that stuff, they said) Tuesday after federal Judge John Jones's decision invalidated Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage.
Beth Hartman and Sharon Wall, partners of 18 years, share a rare public embrace (they hate that stuff, they said) Tuesday after federal Judge John Jones's decision invalidated Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage.
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They married in New York last November and closed on the purchase of a house in Hanover Township on Wednesday.


Rose Kazda Morgans and her wife, Stephanie, clearly weren’t waiting for Pennsylvania to catch up with the turning tide of marriage equality, but they’re sure glad it did.


After Tuesday’s ruling by a federal judge, the state of Pennsylvania will now have to honor their marital status. In a statement released by his office, Gov. Tom Corbett said he will not appeal the decision.


“It’s amazing for us,” Kazda Morgans said. “It’s great to finally have the freedom to have our marriage recognized in the state we live in.”


The Kazda Morgans, currently still living in Luzerne, said they’ve been together for two years, and were already using the non-hyphenated amalgamation of their respective surnames before the ruling.


“We’ve never been the type of people to hold back who we are,” Rose Kazda Morgans, 28, said.


Legal streamlining


And according to Luzerne County Judicial Services and Records Division Head Joan Hogarth, the process of getting a marriage recognized should be an easy one for same-sex couples married outside the state.


“If they’re already legally married, they don’t have to do anything here,” she said.


Couples looking to get married can begin the process of acquiring a marriage license at any time by filling out the printable application available at www.luzernecounty.org.


The application can be completed in person as well, but Hogarth said getting it started online hastens the process. The applicants then turn in their paperwork between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Register of Wills Office, pay a $50 cash fee and wait the three days required by state law to receive their license.


She said the courthouse had received five marriage license applications by 1:30 p.m Wednesday. That number of is not usual for this time of year, she said, but the fact that four of the applications came from same-sex couples made the day unique.


Local musician Rennin Davidson, who described herself as “a little bit of a social activist,” said she’s been fighting alongside the LGBT community since she was a teenager.


“If you would have told me when I first started doing this that in 14 years you’ll be able to marry who you want to, I would have laughed,” she said.


Her reaction Tuesday, she said, was very different.


“I cried! Several times,” she said. Then she “hugged it out.”


Davidson, 27, of Kingston, goes by the stage name Betty Harlot when performing with her band Harlot.


The group, she said, uses the stage to preach a message of tolerance, love and kindness toward all people.


She said she believes people are beginning to accept that being gay or transgender is not a choice, and these changing viewpoints are fueling social change.


Employment laws


The community’s next target, she said, has to be changing discrimination laws relating to employment.


“That’s our next big step in the state of Pennsylvania,” Davidson said, “that you can’t be fired for who you are.”


Despite the progress remaining to be made on the non-discrimination front, Kazda Morgans said she’s pleased with the progress the LGBT community has made in achieving social equality.


“In the 14 or 15 years that I’ve been out, it’s a world of difference,” she said. “I’m very content with where we’re at and what we’ve overcome.”


The couple said they’ve been “blessed” by the support of their friends and family, as well as Rose Kazda Morgan’s workplace, which she said allowed her wife to be covered by her benefits.


“Love is love at the end of the day,” Kazda Morgans said.


The Kazda Morgans also said they planned to hold a ceremony in the summer with family and friends, but rescheduled for next year after deciding to purchase a house.


They said they’re excited the ceremony will be legal.


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