Pair Files Suit after County Withholds Marriage License
Cronin, Mike, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Even if Mary Jo Knelly and David Huggins-Daines say, "I do," their marriage might not be legal.
The Allegheny County Register of Wills rejected the Bloomfield couple's request last month for a marriage license that would allow them to wed without an officiant. Instead, Knelly and Huggins- Daines wanted to conduct the ceremony themselves.
"The ceremony will be similar to a Quaker wedding, though it will be secular," the couple wrote on their Web site.
But in a letter faxed to the couple's lawyer on Thursday, Register of Wills Solicitor Timothy E. Finnerty denied that license. According to Pennsylvania law, Finnerty wrote, "There is no provision for the individuals to officiate at their own marriage."
Because the Legislature abolished common law marriage in 2005, Knelly and Huggins-Daines cannot marry themselves under the same state law that allows the Amish and Quakers to officiate their own weddings, Finnerty wrote.
The couple's lawyers filed a lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court against Register of Wills Eileen Wagner, alleging the denial of a marriage license violated their constitutional rights. They are seeking an emergency injunction to allow them to wed next Saturday without an officiant.
Finnerty told the couple that only those of the Quaker and Bah'ai faiths may perform their own weddings, said one of their attorneys, Sara J. …