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Same-Sex Couples Can Marry in Montgomery County: Register of Wills

A county official was prepared to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple this afternoon.

Montgomery County Courthouse. Credit: Patch
Montgomery County Courthouse. Credit: Patch

Montgomery County Register of Wills Bruce Hanes announced Tuesday that he was prepared to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple earlier today, regardless of the Pennsylvania law banning same-sex marriages.

According to Hanes, a same-sex couple approached him last week, requesting to apply for a marriage license in Montgomery County.

Hanes said that he worked closely with the Register of Wills solicitor Michael Clarke and Montgomery County Solicitor Raymond McGarry to study “every aspect of the law,” based upon the request.

Hanes said that he was prepared to issue that couple a marriage license today.

“I decided to come down on the right side of history and the law, and was prepared to issue a license to the couple,” said Hanes.  "However, the women – for reasons of their own – decided this morning not to seek the marriage license at this time.”

Hanes referenced the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in June to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which had barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

Also referenced by Hanes was Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s recent announcement that she would not defend the state’s gay marriage ban against a lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's version of DOMA as I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional," Kane said at a press conference, according to the Huffington Post.

According to Hanes, he took the oath of office 19 months ago to uphold the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions, and cited Article 1, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which provides for the rights of men, among which is “pursuing their own happiness”

“Had the couple sought the license today, I would have issued it and wished them all the freedom, independence, happiness and rights that our Commonwealth’s Constitution purports to grant to them,” Hanes said.

Michael Diamondstein, an attorney representing the two women who had inquired about a marriage license, released a statement on the couple's decision not to move forward in the process.

"While Mr. Hanes and his office were ready and willing to issue the first same sex marriage license in the history of Pennsylvania, my clients chose not to go forward because they were extremely concerned that the issuance of the marriage license would be challenged on procedural grounds without the Courts ever addressing the actual issue of marriage equality," Diamondstein said. 

A Southeast Pennsylvania lawmaker announced just after the DOMA decision that he would introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in the state; it has not been introduced yet.

Brownhound July 25, 2013 at 08:30 AM
patty porch is watching you too but not judging....
Jane July 25, 2013 at 09:33 AM
Greed!! He's ONLY doing this for his own pocketbook!! He sure ain't doin' it cuz he cares!! #HYPOCRIT
H8TR August 11, 2013 at 08:26 AM
The fires of Hell were stoked today, as judgement day nears for your Demise. Fooling mankind may have been accomplished but the the light of God will shine through the Evil you lay
Mike September 01, 2013 at 05:28 PM
And why does someone need a piece of paper to feel complete? What is the difference between a binding contract at a notary public, or a marriage license? GOD! Homosexuals want to create a worldly acceptance for homosexual behavior, and the only thing in their way is the Bible, Tanakh, Tipitaka, Dhammapada, Shruti, Qur'an, and every religion know to mankind. Montgomery County just violate our religious, and First Amendment rights, by creating a government structured religion....something the "Separation of Church and State" protects us against. Prepare for lawsuits in the pipeline, Montgomery county will be paying for the damages incurred to those of faith.
Jane September 02, 2013 at 08:01 AM
Mike, it is not the county, it is illegal in the commonwealth. If you want an unjust law JUST, one needs to write a bill, get sponsors, get cosponsors, and take these steps. People need to act on things and stop complaining! Do it! And, Mr, Hanes does not care about you, trust me. He only cares about lining his own pocketbook!!

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