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Legalizing gay marriage does not mean full equality in Pa. - abc27 WHTM

Legalizing gay marriage does not mean full equality in Pa.

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Just because Pennsylvania legalized same-sex marriage does not mean the fight for equality is over, according to gay couples.

Alex Reber and Christ Dietz have been together for six years and engaged for the past three. Both were excited to filed for a marriage certificate first thing Wednesday morning at the Dauphin County Courthouse.

Both men filed for a petition for an emergency marriage certificate so they could get married right away.

"We always call each other husband anyway without the legal recognition," Reber said.

Legally, Reber said having a legal marriage certificate means having a myriad of marriage benefits that most straight couples take for granted. He said bank and car loans, transfer of housing deeds, and insurance benefits could help a married couple legally.

"The big thing is knowing that we have equal treatment under the law," Reber said.

Both men said they have had little negative pushback for being openly gay and public figures.

"We're very public. Other people may have a completely different reaction to that," Reber said.

Although Reber is from Harrisburg and Dietz from Millersburg, both have been accepted by their friends and families, but both said they knew some that have been stonewalled at work for being gay.

In Pennsylvania, employers still have the right to fire at will. Only 25 municipalities, including Harrisburg, have ordinances against workplace discrimination when it comes to sexual orientation, gender or age. State and federal laws do not protect LGBT employees.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (EDNA), which would change those laws, is still waiting for approval in Pennsylvania and in Congress.

"There are many battles to fight going forward,” said Dietz. “I think the best way to do that is to be ourselves and to be able to be open.”

Although many same-sex couples have been featured in the media or took to public spaces to celebrate the ruling of Judge Jones, there are many same-sex couples still wanting a private life.

A lesbian couple disapproved of media cameras inside a courtroom Wednesday morning. Reber said it proves that marriage in any realm is still a very private and personal decision.

"Every couple gets to make that choice on their own and it doesn't have to be a public statement,” he said.

Reber and Dietz believed Pennsylvania would eventually lift the ban on gay marriage, the reason why they have waited to get married. They said their friends opted to get married in other states.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Reber said a county judge denied the couple’s request for an emergency certificate. Both applied for a marriage certificate, which would take a typical three days for completion.

Reber and Dietz said they chose to be outspoken and public about marriage equality, but they do wish someday LGBT couples marrying would not make news at all.

"We like to say that when everyone sees that we're as boring as everyone else, that they'll realize we're more the same than we are different," he said.


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