MontCo Official Appeals Judge's Gay Marriage Ruling

Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes says he's appealing a judge's decision to stop him from issuing same-sex licenses

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Haines

    The Pennsylvania register of wills ordered to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples has appealed the judge's decision.

    On Tuesday, Montgomery County officials filed an appeal on behalf of Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes.

    The ruling has been a victory for Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who opposes gay marriage.

    Montgomery County had issued 174 licenses to same-sex couples before the state Health Dept. successfully challenged the policy in court last month.

    Hanes made national headlines after he began recognizing marriages between gay and lesbian coupes in July despite a 1996 state Defense of Marriage law that defines marriage between one man and one woman.

    He said rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and comments made by Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane, saying she wouldn't defend the law, led him to decide the state's marriage law was unconstitutional.

    The Pa. Department of Health sued Hanes saying he wasn't allowed to sidestep the law because it was his job as an official to follow the state's constitution.

    Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini agreed with the state's argument and ordered Hanes to stop issuing the licenses.

    “Even if Hanes is correct in his view that portions of the Marriage Law are unconstitutional… unless and until either the General Assembly repeals or suspends the Marriage Law provisions or a court of competent jurisdiction orders that the law is not to be obeyed or enforced, the Marriage Law in its entirety is to be obeyed and enforced by all Commonwealth public officials," Judge Pelligrini's opinion stated.

    Separately, several lawsuits are underway across the state to challenge the constitutionality of the state's one-man, one-woman marriage law.

    Officials have not said what the ruling means for those couples who obtained licenses.

     


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