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Local Same-Sex Couple Reacts to Federal Benefits Announcement

It's a major victory for same-sex couples across the nation, but will it affect a local couple married in State College?
STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - It's a major victory for same-sex couples across the nation, but will it affect a local couple married in State College?

In a historic move, the Federal Government is expanding recognition of same-sex marriages. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Saturday, he is applying the landmark Supreme Court ruling to the Justice Department. That means same-sex couples will qualify for a number of programs run by the Justice Department.

Joseph Davis, now Joseph Scalzo, says even though this move is a step in the right direction, he doesn't think it will have much of an effect on them now.

Joseph and Gregory Scalzo were married last August in State College at Mayor Elizabeth Goreham's home, making history in Centre County. Since then, the road to wedded bliss hasn't been so easy.

"In our hearts, we're married," Scalzo said. "But at the turn of it, it would be nice if, like any heterosexual couple that are married, if it was recognized by everyone."

After they got married, Joseph took his partner's last name. He was able to change it on his Social Security card, but other agencies wouldn't accept the change, including the DMV and insurance.

Joseph has had several back and heart surgeries in the past several months and he says the change has caused a headache.

"My Social Security number is linked to Scalzo and all of my other paperwork is linked to Davis," he said. "Every time I go to change my name or something and they refuse it, it's like a slap in the face."

Saturday's announcement is bittersweet for Joseph.

"Since we were married in the state of PA, it does not apply to us," he said.

Elizabeth Goreham says it does, in some ways. Couples like Joseph and Gregory will not have to testify against each other, they can file bankruptcy jointly and they are entitled to the same rights and privileges as federal prison inmates in opposite-sex marriages, something Mayor Goreham calls a step in the right direction.

"It seems imminent, since Pennsylvania is the only Northeastern state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, it seems like it's moved and now the courts will catch up," she said.

Goreham has not performed any other same-sex marriages since Joseph and Gregory's last August. She says she did speak with one couple who wants to get married, but says they want to wait until it's legal in PA.
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