Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration says Montgomery County officials are violating the state’s one-man, one-woman marriage law.
However, Democratic officials in the affluent county near Philadelphia believe the state marriage law is unconstitutional.
About 135 same-sex couples have obtained marriage licenses in Montgomery County since Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes decided to issue them last month.
On Monday, Hanes defended his decision to issue same-sex marriage licenses in a legal brief that calls Pennsylvania’s marriage law “arbitrary and suspect.”
Hanes, a Democrat, argues that Pennsylvania’s one-man, one-woman marriage law violates both the state and federal constitutions. He also cites the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Hanes began issuing marriage licenses on July 24 after Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a fellow Democrat, announced she would not defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, because she believes the 1996 state law is unconstitutional.
Commonwealth Court will hear arguments on Sept. 4 in Harrisburg.
Article continues belowMeanwhile, a few mayors around the state are stepping into the fray.
In Western Pennsylvania, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman says he has performed several same-sex marriages at his home.
And State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham has hosted a same-sex wedding. But she says she had a minister perform the ceremony so she would not violate her oath of office.