Montgomery County, Pennsylvania continues to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — over 150 so far — but the state Department of Health is now arguing that it’s no different than giving marriage licenses to children. The Department is suing to stop the marriages, and its latest brief suggests that gay and lesbian couples are disqualified from marrying just like 12-year-olds, as reported by Philly.com:
The state filed a brief Wednesday opposing the couples’ participation, arguing that their marriage licenses hold no “actual value or legitimacy” and thus have no right to be defended in court.
“Had the clerk issued marriage licenses to 12-year-olds in violation of state law, would anyone seriously contend that each 12-year-old . . . is entitled to a hearing on the validity of his ‘license’?” the state wrote.
The state leaves out one key distinction between adult same-sex couples and 12-year-olds: the ability to consent. Indeed, though both groups are prohibited from marrying under state law, the comparison stops there. The only distinction between same-sex couples from opposite-sex couples is their gender, because they are otherwise raising children and engaging in communities just like other families. With this comparison, Pennsylvania is acknowledging that gays and lesbians should be discriminated against simply because of their sexual orientation.
Many of the couples that have married have petitioned to intervene, hoping to protect their marriages should a ruling against Register of Wills Bruce Hanes invalidate their licenses. The state argues that they should file their own suit, though the comparison to children suggests the department has little interest in recognizing their unions.
The Court will hear arguments in the case next Wednesday.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has distanced himself from the language contained in the Department of Health’s brief. In a statement released Thursday, Corbett stood by the suit against Hanes, but said “the analogy chose in the legal brief filed on August 28th is inappropriate,” referring to the comparison between laws banning same-sex couples and children from marrying.