A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania clerk appeals order to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses

Montgomery County Register of Wills [official website] D. Bruce Hanes on Tuesday appealed a lower court order [text] to cease issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court [official website]. Hanes, who began granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples following Attorney General Kathleen Kane's [official website] statement that United States v. Windsor [JURIST reports] ruling left the Pennsylvania Marriage Law [text] unconstitutional. In his appeal, Hanes argues the lower court lacked proper jurisdiction to issue the order. Hanes had issued 174 same-sex marriage licenses before the lower court order was issued. It is currently unclear if those marriages will be recognized.

The issue of same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] in Pennsylvania has become increasingly controversial recently. In September, two lawsuits were filed seeking recognition of their marriages. The first seeking recognition of a Massachusetts marriage and the second seeking official recognition [JURIST reports] of marriages granted by Hanes. Shortly before, Hanes was officially ordered [JURIST reports] to stop issuing the licenses. In July the Pennsylvania Department of Health filed a petition [JURIST report] in the Commonwealth Court [official website] seeking to stop Hanes from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Also in July the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania. The Governor's Office of General Counsel [official website] wrote [text, PDF] to the attorney general in defense of the Pennsylvania statute, arguing that Windsor does not strike down the state's marriage law, but just the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.