The Pennsylvania Health Department has filed a state lawsuit against Montgomery County Register of Wills Bruce Hanes, asking the Commonwealth Court to prevent him from issuing any more same-sex marriage licenses. Hanes began issuing them nearly a week ago, arguing that he was fulfilling his oath to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution by doing so. Since then he has issued over 30 such licenses.
Pennsylvania state law limits marriage to a man and a woman, but it’s one of the few states that does not have a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Conservatives who protested Hanes’ actions described the law as “just discrimination.” A group of same-sex families has filed a suit in federal court challenging the law, and state Attorney General Kathleen Kane has said she will not defend it. It was that decision that Hanes said motivated him to begin issuing licenses.