County Appeals Ruling Against Unlawful Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

By:  Dave Bohon
County Appeals Ruling Against Unlawful Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

A Pennsylvania county is appealing a court ruling blocking it from unlawfully issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

A rogue Pennsylvania county said it will ask a higher court to reverse a state judge's ruling blocking a county official from unlawfully issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On September 12, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini ordered Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes to stop issuing marriage license to homosexual couples, citing the state's 1996 law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.

“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,” Pellegrini said in his ruling.

On September 17 the county's solicitor, Ray McGarry, said that on behalf of Hanes he would appeal the judge’s ruling, which came after the state's health department took Hanes to court over his independent decision to issue the licenses. The case could quickly make its way to the state's highest court, where a ruling against the county could impact the 174 licenses Hanes issued to homosexual couples.

The state's general counselor said he was confident Pellegrini's ruling would be upheld by a higher court. “The law is clear, as was the court's ruling in this case,” said Pennsylvania General Counsel James Schultz. “Local officials do not have the power or authority to disregard state laws based on their own personal legal opinions.”

The Christian Post noted that “Hanes began distributing the marriage licenses to same-sex couples in July, shortly after the Supreme Court's ruling that struck down a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. He said in previous interviews that he personally felt the state's 1996 law explicitly banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, and therefore he had the right as an elected official to distribute marriage licenses to whom he chose.”

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Image: Pennsylvania state flag

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