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.