Marriage equality is becoming an issue
in the race for register of wills in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
Incumbent Democrat D. Bruce Hanes made
national headlines in 2013 when he decided to begin issuing marriage
licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Hanes said at the time that he
was willing to defy the state's gay marriage ban because he believed
it to be unconstitutional. He issued 174 such licenses before he was
sued by the Health Department and ordered to cease.
Hanes' GOP rival, Sharon Thomas,
currently the mayor Pottstown, told local media this week that if
elected, she would not sign any marriage licenses for gay couples.
“I am opposed to gay marriage on
religious grounds, and my conscience will not allow me to sign off on
marriage certificates for gay couples,” Thomas, an ordained
minister, told The
Intelligencer. “People should not have to violate their
conscience to run or to serve.”
“I am not an obstructionist and will
not force my values on others,” she added.
Several Montgomery County Democrats
criticized Thomas' comments in statements given to The
“Does that mean, if she opposed
interracial or interreligious marriages, that she would also refuse
to sign those types of marriage licenses?” asked Montgomery County
Democratic Committee Chairman Marcel Groen.