Pennsylvania

Gay Marriage Ruling Gratifying for MontCo Official Who Issued 1st Marriage License

The historic gay marriage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court brought a sense of gratification Friday morning to the man who made history in Pennsylvania when he issued the commonwealth’s first marriage license for gay couples.

'This is a great decision. This is great for America, great for marriage, great for families,” said D. Bruce Hanes, Register of Wills for Montgomery County.

Hanes kicked up controversy on July 24, 2013 when he began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, saying all couples enjoyed equal protection and due process – not under the federal constitution, but under the state’s constitution. That tipped off a fight between the state and the county and then advocates on both sides of the issue. Hanes was court-ordered at one point to stop issuing licenses and then exonerated nearly a year later when a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

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“I’m very happy with the way it came out,” Hanes said about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. “It’s all part of a process of bringing everybody into the community.”

Hanes was already reading the decision when we reached him minutes after Friday’s ruling was handed down. “I’m looking forward to reading the dissenting opinion,” he said, adding that for him it’s not at all a sense of feeling vindicated. “I don’t feel by doing the right thing, I could do anything other than what I did. If it had gone the other way, I suppose I might feel different.”

Montgomery County has granted 551 licenses for same-sex marriages through May 31, 2015 -- 345 to women and 206 to male couples.

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