The Pennsylvania clerk who issued scores of marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples before he was ordered to stop asked the state's highest court on Monday to overturn the ruling.

Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes defied the state's 17-year-old law which excludes gay couples from marriage when he began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He issued 174 such licenses before he was sued by the Health Department and ordered to cease.

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini said in his order that Hanes did not have the authority to decide the issue on his own.

Hanes argues in documents submitted Monday that Pellegrini's order forced him to violate his oath by enforcing a law that he believes to be unconstitutional.

Hanes acted after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said in a statement that her office could not defend the ban in a separate case because the law was unconstitutional.