PENNSYLVANIA: Governor’s Office Files To Stop Marriages In Montgomery County

Saying that Montgomery County is causing “serious and limitless harm” to the system, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has filed a legal demand to stop the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses.

The filing in Commonwealth Court fleshed out the Health Department’s legal claim against D. Bruce Hanes, the Montgomery County orphan’s court clerk who has issued 116 marriage licenses to same-sex couples over the past three weeks. “There is no limit to the administrative and legal chaos that is likely to flow from the clerk’s unlawful practice,” the administration’s lawyers wrote. The administration said Hanes has a duty to follow state law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman – and argued that county officials who flout the law “may be guilty of a misdemeanor for each act of neglect or refusal.” The administration’s lawyers argued that if a law directs government officials to do something, they can’t disregard that direction simply because they believe it to be unconstitutional. A 1996 state law defined marriage as involving “one man and one woman.”

Late last month a similar lawsuit was filed by Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Health.