Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pa. County to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pa. County to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Article excerpt

Montgomery County will not deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the county's recorder of wills said Tuesday.

"I decided to come down on the right side of history and the law," Recorder of Wills D. Bruce Hanes said, in explaining his stand.

The decision could have statewide implications, bringing gay and lesbian Pennsylvanians to Norristown, a suburb northwest of Philadelphia, for licenses that could then be used for weddings anywhere in the state.

The legality of those licenses would remain in question, however. Under Pennsylvania law, marriage is restricted to one man and one woman. The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the constitutionality of that law is in federal court.

Earlier this month, state Attorney General Kathleen Kane said she would not defend the law, leaving it up to Gov. Tom Corbett's office to handle the case.

Mr. Hanes, a Cheltenham Democrat elected as county register of wills in 2007, said that last week -- for the first time -- a lesbian couple had requested a marriage license from him.

After consulting with solicitors, Mr. Hanes said, he "was prepared to issue a license to the couple."

A news conference was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at which the couple was to receive the marriage license. It was hastily canceled when the couple decided to cancel their request.

The couple's attorney, Michael J. Diamondstein, issued a statement saying that they "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."

Mr. Diamondstein said the couple -- two doctors in their 40s who have been together for 14 years -- requested the marriage license after hearing Ms. Kane's position on the state law.

He was unsure whether they would return to the marriage office soon, but said, "They look forward to the day when they can get married like any other American couple. …

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