County clerk: Marriage law in Pa. 'suspect'
PHILADELPHIA — A county clerk defended his decision to issue same-sex marriage licenses in a legal brief on Monday that calls Pennsylvania's marriage law “arbitrary and suspect.”
About 135 same-sex couples have obtained marriage licenses in Montgomery County since Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes decided to issue them last month.
Hanes, a Democrat, argues that Pennsylvania's one-man, one-woman marriage law violates both the state and federal constitutions. He also cites the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.
“Pennsylvania's DOMA statute is arbitrary and suspect, and is very similar to the statute which was struck down (by the U.S. Supreme Court),” Hanes said in the brief, filed by the Montgomery County Solicitor's Office.
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's administration, through the Health Department, has gone to Commonwealth Court to stop Hanes from issuing the same-sex marriage licenses. The department has argued that Hanes' actions could cause serious harm.
However, Hanes said Monday that no specific harm has been identified. He also wants the case moved to the state Supreme Court instead of Commonwealth Court, which hears cases involving state agencies.
Hanes began issuing marriage licenses on July 24 after Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a fellow Democrat, announced she would not defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage in a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.