Commonwealth Court judge orders end to same-sex marriage licenses

September 12, 2013

HARRISBURG – A judge has ordered a county official in suburban Philadelphia to stop giving out marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini today granted the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s petition seeking to compel Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes to stop issuing the licenses.

Mr. Hanes had issued more than 100 such licenses since July.

“Until a court has decided that an act is unconstitutional, Hanes must enforce the law as written, and it is not a defense to a mandamus action the law may be unconstitutional,” wrote the judge in his 34-page opinion.

An attorney for the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett said the case was about following the law.

“The key question in this case has been whether any local official, anywhere in Pennsylvania, has the ability to decide which laws to uphold and which laws to reject based on their own personal legal opinion,” said General Counsel James Schultz in a statement.

The constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s law forbidding same-sex marriage is being challenged in a separate case, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, in federal court.

Montgomery County officials could not be immediately reached today.



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