To have, to hold and to wed

Posted: May 25, 2014

WHEN EDDIE CHANG obtained his marriage license with partner Derek Finn on Tuesday, just hours after a federal judge overturned the state's ban on gay marriage, he posted the good news to Facebook.

"My mom panicked because my family in Korea didn't know I was gay," said Chang, 34. "But she got flooded with texts from Korea saying, 'We kind of suspected as much,' and, 'What is family for, except to support each other?' "

In a packed marriage ceremony for eight same-sex couples in the mayor's reception room at City Hall yesterday, Chang and Finn, of West Philadelphia, finally became family to one another in the eyes of the law.

The eight couples invited to take part in yesterday's ceremony were among the first to apply for marriage licenses at City Hall on Tuesday after U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

The couples' ceremonies were held simultaneously at noon and officiated by eight judges from the First Judicial District, including President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper, who said so many judges requested to be officiants at the ceremony that she had to turn some down.

"It's really just such a touching and historical event," she said. "Especially when you know and recognize how long some of these couples have waited."

Despite their eagerness, the happy couples at City Hall were not the first to be married in Pennsylvania, where people have to wait three days after a marriage license is issued for it to be legitimized.

That's because a judge in Allegheny County waived the three-day waiting period for a few couples who were married there on Wednesday.

Philadelphia couple Ashley Wilson and Lindsay Vandermay, of Fairmount, also beat the eight City Hall couples to the altar when they were married at 12:01 a.m. yesterday on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art surrounded by 30 of their loved ones.

Vandermay - now Lindsay Wilson - said the "monumental location" was perfect for the "monumental event."

"I mean, I feel like a normal person," she said. "Ash and I feel like we're just normal people and now something great happened to Pennsylvania that we can be a part of."

Later in the day at City Hall, Catherine Connelly, 31, and Laura Devenney, 30, of South Philly, said they too were moved by the location of their nuptials.

"The historical significance is mind-boggling so we definitely wanted to be a part of that if we could," Connelly said.

As for plans to celebrate their wedding, the couple said they already had tickets they got off of Groupon to a monster truck rally in Plymouth Meeting last night.

"We're going to see that through," Connelly said.

As Chang and Finn stood before Judge Edward Summers reciting their vows, Summers paused slightly at an important part of the ceremony.

"I now pronounce you . . . partners?" Summers asked the men, who both nodded in agreement.

After the ceremony, Finn laughed off the pause.

"I was like, 'Yeah, let's go with that,' " he said. "Everyone is slowly catching up and that's OK."

Judges from the First Judicial District will also perform ceremonies for same-sex couples at City Hall from 10 a.m. to noon today. A staffer declined to detail how many marriages were slated for today, but said it's a "boatload."


On Twitter: @FarFarrAway

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