Pennsylvania Department of Health files suit to halt issuance of same-sex marriage licensesAround the Nation, Online Only, Top Highlights Friday, August 30th, 2013
In what was seen as a widely expected move, Philly.com is reporting that the Pennsylvania Department of Health has issued an injunction against the Montgomery County Register of Wills, D. Bruce Hanes. Hanes, who to date has issued 154 same-sex marriage licenses, began issuing them in late July. “”I decided to come down on the right side of history and the law,” the renegade register explained. He was bolstered at the time by an official statement issued by the state’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane who announced that, “”I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s version of DOMA as I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional.”
The state plans to argue in court next Wednesday that those marriage licenses were never valid, and compared gay and lesbian couples to “12-year-olds” who are also barred from marrying under state law. According to the report, “The state filed a brief Wednesday opposing the couples’ participation, arguing that their marriage licenses hold no “actual value or legitimacy” and thus have no right to be defended in court. “Had the clerk issued marriage licenses to 12-year-olds in violation of state law, would anyone seriously contend that each 12-year-old . . . is entitled to a hearing on the validity of his ‘license’?” the state wrote.
While the comparison to legitimacy can be made – both same-sex marriage and marriage to 12-year-olds are illegal in the state of Pennsylvania – the comparison stops there. Consenting adults have a reasonable expectation that their decisions will be upheld in a court of law. And by using a marriage comparison to minors, the state risks being told that their argument is motivated by nothing more than animus toward gays and lesbians.
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who is in the political fight of his life for re-election, has said that licenses issued to same-sex couples thus far will remain valid therefore opening the door for future lawsuits.
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