Surge of Same-Sex Marriages in Pa. Amid Legal Challenges
Nearly 80 same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses in Montgomery County, Pa after county officials disregarded the 1996 state ban on same-sex marriages.
According to lgbtqnation.com, the law currently “defines marriage as a civil contract in which a man and a woman take each other as husband and wife…and same-sex marriages, even if entered legally elsewhere, are void in Pennsylvania.”
Montgomery County clerk D. Bruce Hanes began to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples in response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. According to LGBTQ Nation, the Pennsylvania State Health Department filed a petition July 30, to stop Hanes from issuing licenses stating that he “‘repeatedly and continuously’ flouted the law.”
By the end of August 5, “78 same-sex couples had received [marriage licenses] from Montgomery County,” said spokesman Frank Custer in an interview with the Associated Press. “Of those, 21 have gotten married and filed certificates in the county’s Register of Wills office.” Mayor John Fetterman of Braddock County married two men on the night of August 5, and told KDKA-TV ”[Pennsylvania's] DOMA is a fundamentally unjust piece of legislation.” Hanes’ attorneys have asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
On July 9, the American Civil Liberties Union “filed the first known legal challenge“ against Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban and also requested a federal judge to hinder officials from preventing couples from getting married, specifically naming Gov. Tom Corbett and Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
In a report by LGBTQ Nation, Kane “said she believed [the ban] to be unconstitutional and could not ethically defend it.” Corbett’s lawyer, James Schultz, claimed that Kane’s refusal to defend the ban is not a part of her job.
“Nothing excuses the attorney general from undertaking her legal duty to defend the statute challenged,” wrote Schultz in a letter to Kane’s chief of staff, Adrian King. The chief of staff wrote a letter defending Kane’s decision. “Just as discriminatory laws based on race, religion, gender, disability and ethnic origin have been struck down by the courts one by one, so too will the marriage law,” wrote King. “In short, this is a watershed moment.”
Officials have until September 16 to respond to the lawsuit.
Maya Earls and is a second-year journalism student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She was born in Los Angeles, and moved to Richmond in 2000. Her first journalism experience was managing social media for the Rock4Life benefit concert.She enjoys exploring Richmond on her bike and finding good views of the river. Her favorite past-time is watching people dance in their cars from her apartment window.
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