Court blocks Radnor man's bid to join gay-marriage cases

Posted: February 26, 2014

HARRISBURG - The Commonwealth Court has blocked a Radnor Township man from intervening in two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban.

In a hearing Monday, James Schneller, 58, said he wanted to provide a voice for "the more moral, ethical, and religious population" that opposes same-sex marriage and to present arguments that go beyond what the state's attorneys would say to defend the ban.

Judge Dan Pellegrini rejected Schneller's argument that a ruling in favor of same-sex couples would infringe on his own religious liberty. "I don't see how you will be, as an individual, affected," Pellegrini said.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones ruled similarly Feb. 6 when he blocked Schneller from intervening in a federal lawsuit challenging the state law. Jones said Schneller's intent to inject "deeply held personal and religious beliefs . . . in this federal court proceeding is inappropriate."

Schneller still has petitions outstanding in another federal case and an estate-tax appeal in Northampton County related to the same-sex marriage ban.

Although he has no legal training, Schneller gained national notoriety in 2008 when he filed a lawsuit demanding that candidate Barack Obama provide proof of citizenship. In the last decade, Schneller has filed dozens of lawsuits across the state, often requesting a fee waiver given to people who cannot afford to pay filing fees. He describes himself as self-employed and has also attempted to run for Congress as an independent.

In the same-sex-marriage cases, Schneller filed on behalf of an organization called the Philadelphia Metro Task Force. There is no official record of such an organization, and Schneller would not provide proof Monday of its existence.

Schneller said it was "a faith-driven organization" whose 150 members didn't want their names recorded because they feared persecution from gay activists.


jparks@philly.com

610-313-8117 @JS_Parks

www.inquirer.com/MontcoMemo

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