Pa. clerk asks Supreme Court to halt gay marriage

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POTTSVILLE – A Pennsylvania county official asked the U.S. Supreme Court to suspend a federal ruling that allows gay couples to marry in the state.


Theresa Santai-Gaffney, Schuylkill County’s register of wills and Orphans’ Court clerk, asked the high court Thursday afternoon to stay the ruling while she pursues an appeal. Her request was made public by the Supreme Court Monday.


Same-sex marriage has been legal in Pennsylvania since U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III struck down a state ban May 20.


Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration declined to appeal Jones’ decision, prompting Santai-Gaffney’s attempt to intervene. So far, her efforts to achieve standing in the case have been rebuffed by Jones and a federal appellate court.


A right to same-sex marriage “is not deeply rooted in, but instead is belied by, this nation’s history and heritage,” her attorneys wrote in their Supreme Court filing.


Santai-Gaffney argued she should be permitted to appeal because her official duties include the issuance of marriage licenses.


Jones’ ruling amounted to “judicial nullification of her statutory duty to enforce the commonwealth’s man-woman marriage laws,” her lawyers wrote.


Molly Tack-Hooper, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which represented plaintiffs in the case, said Santai-Gaffney is not a party to the lawsuit and thus has no right to pursue an appeal.


“The elephant in the room is that no one who has standing to appeal has appealed,” she said Monday.


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