Friday, September 13, 2013

UPDATE: Judge in PA Stops County From Issuing Marriage Licences

If you recall the marriage equality situation in Pennsylvania when last we blogged about it, there was a single county (Montgomery) that was issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples because the Register of Wills Bruce Hanes had decided the state marriage law was unconstitutional.

A number of same-sex couples received marriage licenses and got married. The Attorney General of Pennsylvania also believes the Keystone State's marriage law is unconstitutional and refused to defend it.

However Pennsylvania's Republican Governor, Tom Corbett, stepped in to defend it himself in his capacity as the chief executive of the state, hiring a private law firm to do so (at the cost of $400 per hour).

It turns out that yesterday a judge finally ordered Hanes to stop issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, which he says he has done 146 times. It's not clear what the status of the marriages that were entered into using those licenses. However, typically in this situation, even when the marriage statute is ruled unconstitutional (California) those marriages from improvidently issued licenses are often declared null and void by the Court (California, Oregon and Colorado).

You may recall that a similar thing is happening in New Mexico, but in the other direction. Judges are ordering county clerks to issue marriage licenses and the state Supreme Court has finally stepped in to say it will hear oral arguments in the case in late October.

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