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Pa. clerk seeks ‘en banc’ hearing in bid to overturn same-sex marriage ruling

Pa. clerk seeks ‘en banc’ hearing in bid to overturn same-sex marriage ruling

POTTSVILLE, Pa. — A Pennsylvania county clerk seeking to overturn a federal judge’s ruling allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state, is now asking that the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit consider her bid to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Theresa Santai-Gaffney
Theresa Santai-Gaffney

Theresa Santai-Gaffney, the Register of Wills and Orphans’ Court Clerk for Schuylkill County, Pa., has sought to intervene and appeal a federal judge’s May 20 ruling striking down Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban.

Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration was defending the law, but declined to appeal the ruling, allowing for Pennsylvania to become the 19th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Earlier this month, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rejected Santai-Gaffney’s motion to stop same-sex marriages in the state while she tries to get standing in a legal case to stop them permanently.

On July 3, a three judge panel of the 3rd Circuit Court rejected Santai-Gaffney bid to gain standing in the case, affirming the District Court’s ruling that “if the highest elected official in the commonwealth chooses to abide by our decision, it defies credulity that we would permit a single citizen to stand in for him to perfect an appeal.”

On Thursday, Santai-Gaffney petitioned for an “en banc” hearing by the Third Circuit — an “en banc” hearing is when the motion is considered by the entire bench, instead of just three judges. There are 14 active judges in the Third Circuit.

She said her battle to overturn the marriage ban is not being funded taxpayers since the lawyers are working for free.

Santai-Gaffney is represented by the group Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been involved in pressing a number of lawsuits nationwide opposing marriage equality, and whose attorneys frequently testify in court challenges and state legislatures against LGBT rights.

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