A day after getting license, pair see wedding plans dashed

Matthew Mionczynski (seated) and David Soppick show their marriage license. They hope for an eventual victory.
Matthew Mionczynski (seated) and David Soppick show their marriage license. They hope for an eventual victory. (APRIL SAUL / Staff)
Posted: September 14, 2013

On Wednesday, Matthew Mionczynski and David Soppick left the Montgomery County Courthouse with a marriage license.

They bought a bottle of champagne and stashed it in the refrigerator of their Norristown home. They called friends and family, recruited a witness, and began planning the wedding they had long dreamed of.

On Thursday, tears welled in Mionczynski's eyes as he clutched the license, a piece of paper suddenly worthless.

"After 17 years, it was going to be legal," he said.

The two men were among 56 couples whose plans were abruptly derailed by the Commonwealth Court ruling that blocked the county from issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

After getting a license, couples must wait at least three days to marry, then return the certificate to the county to make their union official. Mionczynski, 54, and Soppick, 56, were on Day One.

The couple had a marriage ceremony without a license 17 years ago at a Unitarian church in Paoli. Soppick's goddaughter played the flute as they walked down the aisle. But they had long hoped for legal recognition.

"We thought this time we'd be recognized as a family," Soppick said.

A wedding in a state that recognizes gay marriage wasn't on the table. "We want to be legal where we live," Mionczynski said.

The pair first met as teens at a party in Conshohocken - and reconnected at a bar in their 30s. "We just saw each other and knew it was meant to be," Soppick said.

Mionczynski is a former electrical engineer; Soppick ran a cleaning business for two decades until he became unable to work, he said. Both suffer from a host of chronic conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, and live off Social Security disability benefits, they said.

"Now we're just sitting here getting old," Soppick said.

The couple said they were now pinning their hopes on a federal lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's gay-marriage ban.

But they said it was discouraging to have come close to a legal wedding, only to miss their chance by days.

"We had a cry, all right," Soppick said.

Contact Aubrey Whelan at 610-313-8112, awhelan@philly.com, or on Twitter at @aubreyjwhelan.

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