Pennsylvania sued to stop a rogue county from issuing marriage licenses to “gay” couples on Tuesday, nearly a week after a clerk began granting them in violation of Pennsylvania law.
The petition filed alleges that D. Bruce Hanes, the register of wills in Montgomery County, “repeatedly and continuously” flouted the law. As of Tuesday afternoon, the county had granted 34 licenses and registered six same-sex marriages, according to the Associated Press.
The Health Department, which oversees marriage licenses, said in the lawsuit that Hanes’ action would likely lead to illegal claims or benefits.
“There is no limit to the administrative and legal chaos that is likely to flow from the clerk’s unlawful practice of issuing marriage licenses to those who are not permitted under Pennsylvania law to marry,” the lawsuit said.
The Pennsylvania county has become the new “Ground Zero” in the same-sex marriage fight after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.
Hanes began issuing licenses to same-sex couples last week, saying that he wanted to come down “on the right side of history and the law.”
The Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania held a pray-in at county offices last week to protest Hanes’ actions and to denounce other county officials for violating the law.
“It began the rally of the truth,” coalition President Mike McMonagle told WND.
McMonagle explained why a group devoted to protecting the unborn is so active in the marriage debate.
“[Same-sex marriage] is just a continuation of the war on children, begun with contraception and sterilization and continuing with abortion. Now it’s an effort to deny children a mother and a father,” said McMonagle.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat, also announced she would not defend the Commonwealth’s 17-year-old law, saying, “I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s [law banning same-sex marriage], where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional.”
McMonagle sees multiple political elements at work and holds figures in both parties responsible. He says Democrats are “succeeding tremendously” in trying to undermine Gov. Tom Corbett’s political support among conservatives.
“Governor Corbett has been so timid on this because he’s afraid of addressing the issue down in the Philadelphia area. He thinks he’s going to lose on it, but in reality he’s losing a lot of conservative supporters because of his timidity and failure to enforce the rule of law,” said McMonagle.
Corbett’s office indicated that it would defend the state’s marriage law in a separate legal challenge filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state without same-sex marriages or civil unions. A 1996 state law defines marriage as a civil contract in which a man and a woman take each other as husband and wife. It says same-sex marriages — even if entered legally elsewhere — are void in Pennsylvania.