Gay couple seeking marriage license turned away in Philly

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 Bob and Bill Sullivan from Philadelphia have been together for 22 years. They were denied a marriage license at Philadelphia's City Hall today, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks)

Bob and Bill Sullivan from Philadelphia have been together for 22 years. They were denied a marriage license at Philadelphia's City Hall today, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks)

Challenges continue as efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania press on.

A gay couple attempted to obtain a marriage license at City Hall in Philadelphia Tuesday.

Work in a busy administration office carried on around Bob and Bill Sullivan as they made the request. But city employees, who told the couple that they sympathize with their situation, said they are bound to follow Pennsylvania law.

“As sympathetic as the register is personally,” attorney Caren Berger said, “he’s constrained by the system right now and until the court rules in Pennsylvania on the validity of same-sex marriage.”

Multiple court challenges are ongoing in state and federal court in efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

Bob Sullivan says that without recognition, he worries about hospital visiting privileges and the lack of official acknowledgment that Bill took Bob’s last name when they were legally married in Vermont.

“The complacency in Philadelphia County and in Pennsylvania has to stop,” he said. “We can no longer assume that legislators on our side are actually going to change the law. We need to step up, call them out and hold them accountable for this.”

The group Marriage Equality USA has organized Valentine’s Day walk-ins to agencies issuing marriage licenses for years. City Hall was closed on Friday because of snow, so the Valentine’s-linked event took place Tuesday for the first time in Philadelphia.

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