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Pennsylvania

Pa. county to appeal ruling that it stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court appears to be the next stop for a suburban Philadelphia county’s battle to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Montgomery County said Tuesday that its solicitor, Ray McGarry, will appeal a state judge’s order stopping a county court clerk from issuing the licenses.

Matt Rourke, APD. Bruce Hanes

Matt Rourke, AP
D. Bruce Hanes

He will file the appeal in the next several days on behalf of D. Bruce Hanes, the county’s register of wills who maintains that Pennsylvania’s 1996 law that says marriage is between a man and a woman is unconstitutional, McGarry said in a statement.

Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that does not same-sex marriage or civil unions between individuals of the same sex. It also does not recognize same-sex marriages by couples legally married in a jurisdiction that allows it.

The state Health Department under Republican Gov. Tom Corbett took Hanes to court after he began issuing licenses to same-sex couples in Jul y. Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini ruled last week that Hanes had no power to alone decide whether the law is constitutional or not. By that time, Hanes, a Democrat, had issued 174 licenses to same-sex couples.

“The law is clear, as was the court’s ruling in this case: Local officials do not have the power or authority to disregard state laws based on their own personal legal opinions,” Corbett spokesman Nils Frederiksen said Tuesday.

Montgomery County is the state’s third-most-populous and is under Democratic control.

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Separately, civil rights lawyers went to federal court July 9 to challenge the 1996 law. Their clients are a widow, 10 couples and one of the couples’ two teenage daughters and include four couples who were legally married in other states but whose marriages go unrecognized by Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, a Democrat, has said she will not defend the state law in the case because she believes it t o be unconstitutional. That has left the defense of the law to Corbett’s office.

Also, a female couple who obtained one of the first same-sex licenses from Hanes this summer and later married have filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court against Corbett arguing that their marriage is permissible under the state constitution and asks the state to recognize their union.

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9 more reader comments:

  1. Old ways are out the door….deal with it….

    Posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7:20pm
  2. ppfftttt

    Posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7:36pm
  3. Keep on fighting…

    Posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 8:00pm
  4. GAYS DERSERVE STRICT SRUTINY PROTECTION UNDER THE USC FOURTEENTHA MENDMEND

    Posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 8:19pm
  5. Time to call it a day PA. Let marriage rule !

    Posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 8:47pm
  6. This is B*** S***

    Posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 9:27pm
  7. This shouldn’t be an issue. Same sex marriages should be allowed in every state.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 9:44pm
  8. HERO!!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 10:37pm
  9. good, DON’T GIVE UP.

    Posted on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 3:20am