Same-sex couples file suit challenging Marriage Law

Posted: September 27, 2013

Twenty-one same-sex couples are asking Commonwealth Court to declare their marriages valid and the Pennsylvania Marriage Law unconstitutional.

The couples - 14 pairs of women, seven of men - have been in limbo since Sept. 12, when the court ordered Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes to stop issuing new marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples but said nothing about marriages already performed and recorded.

During the hearing in Commonwealth v. Hanes, Gov. Corbett's attorney argued that "as a matter of law, [those couples] simply aren't married."

And President Judge Dan Pellegrini told the couples' attorney, Bob Heim, "Why don't you just file an action" instead of trying to intervene in the county's case?

He said a separate lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality would be taken up quickly by the court.

So Wednesday, Heim filed such a suit against Corbett, Attorney General Kathleen Kane, and Secretary of Health Michael Wolf.

The suit argues that the law defining marriage as between "one man and one woman" violates federal and state constitutional rights to equal protection.

It lists financial, legal, and emotional damages suffered by same-sex couples and says the legislature passed the law "based on no more than animus and fear."

A spokesman said Corbett's office was reviewing the suit and was not prepared to comment.

Hanes announced last week that he would appeal Pellegrini's decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. A county spokesman said the appeal should be filed by the end of the week.


jparks@philly.com

610-313-8117 @JS_Parks

www.inquirer.com/MontcoMemo

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