A Pennsylvania county clerk on Thursday
asked a federal appeals court to stay a judge's ruling striking down
the state's ban on gay marriage.
Theresa Santai-Gaffney, the clerk of
orphans court and register of wills in Schuylkill County, filed the
request in response to a ruling handed down Wednesday denying her
intervenor status in the case.
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones on
May 20 struck down Pennsylvania's restrictive marriage ban without
staying his decision. Pennsylvania became the 19th state,
in addition to the District of Columbia, to allow gay couples to
marry when Governor Tom Corbett decided not to appeal Jones' ruling.
Santai-Gaffney claims she should be
allowed to appeal the decision because it affected her rights and
duties as an elected official and left the state's marriage law in a
state of limbo. Jones knocked down both arguments.
“Simply stated, Santai-Gaffney's
'rights and duties' are to comply with the current state of the law,
and she may not exercise any independent judgment when issuing
marriage licenses,” Jones wrote in denying her request.
“There is simply no unclarity in the
current status of the laws governing the issuance of marriage
licenses in Pennsylvania, and Santai-Gaffney can claim no confusion,”
He also criticized the clerk for her
actions: “If the highest elected official in the commonwealth
chooses to abide by our decision, it defies credulity that we could
permit a single citizen to stand in for him to perfect an appeal.”
Santai-Gaffney appealed the decision to
the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. She also asked
the court to stay Jones' ruling which effectively legalized same-sex
marriage in Pennsylvania.
Vic Walczak, an attorney with the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who worked on the case, told
Morning Call that he doesn't expect Santai-Gaffney to