LGBTQ couples wed, renew vows at City Hall on National Coming Out Day

"Twenty years ago, who could come here with the mayor's support?"

Hadas Kuznits
October 11, 2018 - 5:12 pm
City Hall celebrated love Thursday with a handful of LGBTQ marriages and vow renewals led by Mayor Jim Kenney.

Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — City Hall celebrated love Thursday with a handful of LGBTQ marriages and vow renewals led by Mayor Jim Kenney.

Mark Jerde and Neal Orzeck celebrated National Coming Out Day with a 10-year marriage vow renewal officiated by Judges Ann M. Butchart, Daniel J. Anders and Kenney.

"It's as if we're being married for the first time right now because we're being married in our own city," Jerde noted. Just 10 years ago, that wouldn't have been possible.

"And the only reason we had a six-week period in California where we could do it," added Orzeck, "there was Proposition 8 that came along, and that stopped it and we got in there right in that time period."

Newlywed Romeo Lopaz also said it's particularly significant to get married in the Mayor's Reception Room.

"Because, you know, 20 years ago, who could come here with the mayor's support?" he recalled. " With all the judges and the public and the news stations, it would be a scandal. But today, it's considered a beautiful event."

RELATED: On Coming Out Day, embracing those who don't identify as 'he' or 'she'

Emmet Binkowski and Maggie Alvarez said as a trans and non-binary couple, it's validating to be granted the same rights as any married couple.

"If one of us is sick, we can visit each other in the hospital," said Binkowski, "or we're — "

"The emergency contact," Alvarez enthusiastically jumped in.

Amber Hikes, executive director of the Mayor's Office of LGBTQ Affairs, noted that marriage equality in Pennsylvania wasn't legally recognized until 2014.

"It was a huge victory but we as LGBTQ people can still be fired, we can be kicked out of our homes, we can be kicked out of places of public accommodation just for being LGBTQ," she said, "so we still have a long way to go, but marriage equality was certainly a big step."