Are Those Pennsylvania Marriages Valid?

After a judge ordered Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County to cease issuing same-sex marriage licenses, many are wondering about the validity of the licenses already granted.

Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes said Thursday he was disappointed but would comply with the decision by Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini. Hanes said he thinks the 174 licenses he handed out are legally valid. “I believe they are … but I can’t make that decision,” he said. Robert Heim, a lawyer for some of the same-sex couples who obtained licenses from Hanes, noted that Pellegrini said the legality of the licenses was not an issue before him. “The 32 couples that I represent are going to have to decide whether they also want to litigate it in the Commonwealth Court, since Judge Pellegrini virtually invited it,” Heim said.

One local attorney believe the marriages should stand.

A Norristown attorney says yesterday’s decision by a Pennsylvania Commonwealth judge may have stopped any more licenses from being issued to same-sex couples in Montgomery County, but those that have been issued cannot be taken back. Family attorney Dan Clifford says he is reviewing the decision of Judge Dante Pellegrini, which orders the Montgomery County register of wills to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Clifford adds that same-sex couples who had made marriage license applications but had not received a license are in limbo for the time being.

Some of those 174 couples are regular JMG participants.