PHILADELPHIA — A federal appeals court has rejected a Pennsylvania county clerk’s latest effort to overturn a federal judge’s ruling allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Monday denied a request by Theresa Santai-Gaffney, the Register of Wills and Orphans’ Court Clerk for Schuylkill County, Pa., seeking an “en banc” hearing in her bid to gain standing to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration was defending the law, but declined to appeal the May 20 ruling, allowing for Pennsylvania to become the 19th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
On July 3, a three judge panel of the Third Circuit rejected Santai-Gaffney’s 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.”
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A request for an en banc hearing is when the case is considered by the entire bench of 14 judges on the Third Circuit, instead of just three.
Santai-Gaffney, who is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom — a conservative legal group also representing clerks in Virginia and Oklahoma same-sex marriage cases — asked the U.S. Supreme Court last month to stop same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania. Without comment, Justice Samuel Alito rejected that motion.
Santai-Gaffney is expected to return to the Supreme Court to appeal the Third Circuit decision.