Pennsylvania officials on Tuesday took action to stop a county
from issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
At least 34 gay couples have received a marriage license since D.
Bruce Hanes, the register of wills in Montgomery County, announced
last week that his office was prepared to issue such licenses in
defiance of state law. Hanes said that he wanted to be “on the
right side of history and the law.”
In its petition, the Health Department alleges that Hanes has
“repeatedly and continuously” flouted the law.
“There is no limit to the administrative and legal chaos that is
likely to flow from the clerk's unlawful practice of issuing marriage
licenses to those who are not permitted under Pennsylvania law to
marry,” the complaint states.
The move came on the same day that Republican Governor Tom
Corbett's office announced that it would defend the state's 1996
marriage law in a legal challenge filed by 11 couples in long-term
committed relationships plus one widow. The couples are represented
by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has filed similar
suits in other states, including North Carolina.
Corbett is left to defend the law after Democratic Attorney
General Kathleen Kane refused to do so, saying that she believes the
law violates the U.S. Constitution.