Judge Orders Stop to Montco Gay Marriages

Well, so much for that:

A Pennsylvania judge is stopping a suburban Philadelphia court clerk from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying it was a clear violation of his legal authority.

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini on Thursday issued an order that said Montgomery County Register of Wills Bruce Hanes didn’t have the power to decide on his own whether the same-sex marriage ban violates the state constitution.

Hanes issued four more licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday, bringing the total number to 174.

The ruling doesn’t decide whether Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage is constitutional or not; it merely states that Hanes didn’t have the authority to decide on his own that it was unconstitutional, and to officially act in accordance with that belief.

“As outlined above, Hanes has admittedly failed to comply with his mandatory ministerial public duty under the Marriage Law by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, by accepting the marriage certificates of same-sex couples, and by waiving the mandatory three-day waiting period, in violation of the express provisions of the Marriage Law. Even if Hanes is correct in his view that portions of the Marriage Law are unconstitutional, as noted above, the instant mandamus action is not the proper forum in which such a determination may be made. The proper method for those aggrieved is to bring a separate action in the proper forum raising their challenges to the Marriage Law. Unless and until either the General Assembly repeals or suspends the Marriage Law provisions or a court of competent jurisdiction orders that the law is not to be obeyed or enforced, the Marriage Law in its entirety is to be obeyed and enforced by all Commonwealth public officials.

What happens to the licenses that were already issued? G Philly chats with attorney Robert Heim.

Here’s the entire ruling:

Gay Marriage Ruling