Existing marriage license forms are no longer appropriate, but courthouse staffers say they'll do their best to comply with changes in Pennsylvania marriage laws.

Theresa Gaffney in the Clerk of Orphans' Court, Schuylkill County Courthouse, said Wednesday that the department expects to receive applications, even though the printed forms still refer to "male and female."

"I took an oath to uphold the law," she said. "Society has changed and the laws are changing."

Gaffney said the courthouse also is keeping an eye on the potential for appeal.

At the Carbon County Courthouse, same-sex marriage licenses initially were on hold per the advice of the president judge and solicitor.

"The forms are marked male and female. They come from the Bureau of Vital Statistics," said Judy Moon, Register of Wills office. Moon said she wouldn't have the authority to make changes to the form.

However, after further discussion at the courthouse, a determination was made later in the morning to begin issuing licenses using existing forms.

Like Schuylkill County, Carbon is monitoring the potential for appeal.

Long time coming

But folks like Kerri Manfredi of Nesquehoning, say change is long overdue.

"Everyone should be treated equally," said Manfredi.

Manfredi has been engaged to fiancee Mistie for a year. The couple considered traveling to a nearby state to get married, but were reluctant since their marriage wouldn't be recognized in their home state. They were delighted about Tuesday's announcement that the state ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional

"Last night, my fiancee was already asking me when our date was," said Manfredi.

Schuylkill County native John E. Jones III, judge for U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, made the decision just one day after a similar decision in Oregon and one week after the same determination in Bible-belt Arkansas.

With the ruling, Pennsylvania becomes the 19th state to recognize same-sex marriage, following Oregon, which recognized it on Monday.

According to Jones:

"The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of 'separate but equal.' In the sixty years since Brown was decided, 'separate' has thankfully faded into history, and only 'equal' remains.

"Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage. We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history."

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said it's all about justice.

"This is a historic day. More importantly, today brings justice to Pennsylvanians who have suffered from unequal protection under the law because of their sexual orientation. When state-sponsored inequality exists, citizens are deprived of the full protections that the Constitution guarantees. Our commonwealth progressed today and so have the hopes and dreams of many who suffer from inequality.

"Today, in Pennsylvania, the Constitution prevailed. Inequality in any form is unacceptable and it has never stood the test of time."

Immediate change

Those affected can apply for a marriage license immediately.

The suit had been filed in July 2013, by the ACLU and a Philadelphia law firm.

The plaintiffs included, among others, Ed Hill and David Palmer, a Bangor couple who were legally married in Maine after nearly 25 years together. The two were recognized as legally married by the federal government, but Pennsylvania refused to recognize their marriage or extend the same rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

The Pennsylvania court decision means all northeast U.S. states have marriage equality. With Oregon's decision Monday, the entire west coast and Canada also have marriage equality.

The decision in Pennsylvania comes exactly 10 years and three days after Massachusetts led the way in 2004.

Gov. Tom Corbett, who opposed same-sex marriage and sparked outrage in 2013 when he compared it to incest, could file an appeal but had not issued a statement Wednesday morning.

In the meantime, marriages began immediately.

Rue Landau and Kerry Smith of Philadelphia became the first Pennsylvania same-sex couple to receive a license and be married following the decision.

However, Loreen Bloodgood and Alicia Terrlizzi became the first same-sex married couple by default. They had been Issued a license by Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes last July. They immediately married at that time but their union went unrecognized by Pennsylvania. With Tuesday's decision, their marriage automatically became legal.

Locally, lawmakers have not embraced the idea of marriage equality.

In a Times News poll conducted in August 2012, Sen. David Argall, R-29, Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-124, and Sen. John Yudichak, D-14, remained steadfast in nonsupport of same-sex marriage and the protections it would provide for minority Pennsylvanians.

Rep. Neal Goodman, D-123 and Rep. Doyle Heffley, R-122, didn't respond.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.