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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.

Jane July 23, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Steve hit the nail on the head! A large government makes a small citizen!! Leave marriage...any marriage, between the couple and the clergy, Judge, and/or God, if one is spiritual!!!
Steve Piotrowski July 23, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Thanks Jane! I ONLY SPEAK THE TRUTH.
Brownhound July 24, 2013 at 12:11 AM
so jane is cool with two guys getting married and so is steve....
Brownhound July 24, 2013 at 12:12 AM
im cool with that too and they should get the same legal rights and man and wife
Shae Ashe July 24, 2013 at 10:27 AM
They officially married this morning after backing out yesterday in fear of legal troubles. Congrats to the couple, I wish them nothing but happiness.
Brownhound July 24, 2013 at 10:47 AM
yeah! so now jane and steve should support them by keeping big government out of their happy lives!
Mike Shortall Sr July 24, 2013 at 11:31 AM
I don't get this. If Pennsylvania doesn't legally recognize gay marriage (yet), how does the issuance of a marriage license make the wedding legal in the eye of the State/Courts??? To take it a step further, if one of the newlyweds were to die today, would the Courts - insofar as estate matters and children (if any) - legally recognize the relationship? I don't see how this changes the nature of the legally recognized relationship. Seems to me Hanes has done these couples more harm than good with his interpretation.
MrABC123 July 24, 2013 at 11:42 AM
The couple backed out yesterday probably not long before this article was written. This should not occur because same sex marriage is not legal in PA. Change the law first. We can't have government officials deciding what laws they want to enforce and which laws they will ignore. I agree. Get government out of the marriage business which means get rid of all tax breaks. If people want to leave their estate to their spouse, they can have a legal contract drawn up.
David Agosta July 24, 2013 at 12:27 PM
Steve, while you may be theoretically correct, we don't live in a theoretical world. There are something like 1600 Federal laws. You can ignore them and the numerous aspects of life that they cover but you can't, except theoretically, snap your fingers and make inheritance and survivor's benefits, limited power of attorney and all of the other issues that are currently tied to marriage simply disappear. What you say may be true. It may also be the stupidest thing anyone has ever said.
MrABC123 July 24, 2013 at 12:32 PM
I just saw on the news that the license was issued, illegally of course.
David Agosta July 24, 2013 at 12:34 PM
Government officials have an absolute right and maybe even an obligation not to enforce laws that are unconstitutional.
David Agosta July 24, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Any State Legislature can pass any stupid an discriminatory law, let's say making it illegal for left-handed people to drive. The DMV is under no obligation to deny left-handed people driver's licenses.
Steve Piotrowski July 24, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Read my article on the Patch called The REAL Threat to the Sanctity of Marriage: This is my rebuttal to the Montgomery County Register of Wills Bruce Hanes for his position on marriage. http://norristown.patch.com/groups/steve-piotrowski/p/the-real-threat-to-the-sanctity-of-marriage
Jane July 24, 2013 at 01:04 PM
He feels the need to disobey an"unjust law", so why does he not take the proper steps? Introduce a bill, get sponsors, get cosponsors. Take the initiative to get marriage out of government! Period!
Brownhound July 24, 2013 at 01:23 PM
jane what you mentioned is politics.... introduce a bill in a state senate and house with a republican majority? No the easier way is to take this to the state supreme court and then the us supreme court if needed. prop 8 ring a bell? this is how marriage inequality will fall in pa. The highest court in the state and the country.
Brownhound July 24, 2013 at 01:24 PM
fyi... the governor is an elected official.... he can grant pardons to criminals..... thereby circumventing the law....
Brownhound July 24, 2013 at 01:30 PM
i dont watch it but is faux news having hissy fits right now? Things like.... Corbett loses control of his state! Hostile Liberal Takeover!
Jane July 24, 2013 at 01:38 PM
Hey, it's just a baby step, so- to- speak...naturally go to the higher ups! I'm no way anti gay,. I support "traditional marriage", and if homosexuals choose to marry, it is their choice, obviously. This just brings on more government and we certainly don't need that! Get a ccontract via an attorney, if necessary! Good riddance big bro!! #Tyranny
Jane July 24, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Steve, the rebuttal is wonderful...thank you!! Vote third party!!!
H8TR July 24, 2013 at 02:41 PM
This was a simple ploy to be refused a license and then turn it into a law suit. This couple with their lawyer with try multiple counties untill refused. They started in Montgomery county because it very wealthy. Anyway marry who, or what ya want. Idk
Steve Piotrowski July 24, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Exactly H8TR. And we need to get the government out of the marriage business. We do not need to legalize gay marriage or straight marriage. We need to stop looking to the government for answers and start looking to ourselves. "Oh please master (government), please give me permission to marry". Its idiotic to think that way.
MrABC123 July 24, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Corbett should have used the "right side of history" when he sold the lottery a few months back. Of course the left cried a river and stopped it because they said it was illegal. I'm really getting fed up with the left making the laws as they go along. They are becoming a cancer to America. Mob rule isn't the way to run a government.
H8TR July 25, 2013 at 08:07 AM
God will judge you, just like me. So repent for all your sins. Only God can judge me! Lol
Brownhound July 25, 2013 at 08:21 AM
h8tr? are you on all fours naked eating grass whilst you type this? :D
H8TR July 25, 2013 at 08:23 AM
Only God! But bahahahhaa
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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