Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini put a halt today to D. Bruce Hanes, Montgomery County Register of Wills, actions in granting marriage licenses to same sex couples. Following the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision Hanes determined that Pennsylvania’s DOMA law is invalid and began pursuing a policy of marriage equality. Gay and lesbian couples from across the Commonwealth flocked to Norristown to get legal permission to wed. 174 couples did so.
Pelligrini said that Hanes didn’t have the authority to determine, on his own, that the law was unconstitutional and invalidated all of the same sex licenses issued by Montgomery County. I’m assuming the case will be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. If they decide the case solely on these grounds it isn’t likely to be overturned. If they consider the case in light of the constitutionality of DOMA it should get overturned.
As of closing today Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes has given out 78 marriage licenses to same sex couples and 21 of them have wed. Sixteen couples applied today alone and last week saw one couple drive from Pittsburgh and another couple from Portland, Maine get a license to marry here. Many of these couples seem to be from Southeastern Pennsylvania but some are taking advantage of this window to drive from different corners of the Commonwealth to Norristown.
Today those LGBT and straight allies of Hanes held a rally in frnt of the Montgomery County courthouse to show their appreciation. Included were three candidates for Congress in the 13th CD. Also speaking were several House members from Harrisburg: Mark Cohen, Brendan Boyle, Matt Bradford and Madelein Dean.
Before the event began a couple came by on their way in to get their marriage license and joined the rally. Lisa Dow Summey and Renee Juliano even got to speak and showed off their newly minted marriage license. They have three children who now will be able to have more secure futures because their Moms will be legally married and entitled to more than a thousand rights denied them until now.
Sen. Leach is hugged by a couple he personally married:
This adorable little boy has a question:
Summey and Juliano:
Loreen Bloodgood and Alicia Terrizzi of Pottstown were married yesterday after Montgomery County announced it would begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes with approval of Commissioners Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards, decided that recent Supreme Court decisions rendered Pennsylvania’s state level DOMA law unconstitutional and decided not to await court orders outlawing the ban.
The Pennsylvania ACLU has sued the Commonwealth of the law representing a dozen carefully chosen plaintiffs. They hope to take this case all the way to SCOTUS and overturn all of the state laws banning marriage equality. Montgomery County chose not to wait and yesterday the lesbian couple from Pottstown got a waiver of the three day waiting period and wed immediately.