Pennsylvania Judge Bars Gay-Marriage Licenses

One county clerk took it upon himself to start issuing them, despite state law

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Sep 12, 2013 3:38 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Pennsylvania judge today ordered a suburban Philadelphia court clerk to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini said Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes did not have the power to decide on his own whether Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban violates the state constitution. It was not immediately clear what the decision will mean for the 174 couples who obtained licenses.

"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 wrote. Hanes said he would comply but is considering an appeal. The state Health Department under Republican Gov. Tom Corbett took Hanes to court after he began issuing licenses to same-sex couples in July, despite a 1996 state law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Hanes acted after the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

In this July 24 photo, Ellen Toplin, right, and Charlene Kurland show their new marriage license in Montgomery County, Pa.   (Matt Rourke)
Montgomery County official Wills D. Bruce Hanes.   (Matt Rourke)
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