Pennsylvania Sues To Stop Montco's Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Pennsylvania Sues To Stop Montco's Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. -

The Pennsylvania state Health Department is trying to stop Montgomery County from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.

The department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against D. Bruce Hanes, the man who has been granting them.

Very soon after Gov. Tom Corbett's administration moved in court to stop Montgomery County from issuing the licenses to gay couples, the county responded in defiance, saying it will keep issuing those licenses.

So the gay marriage battle is joined in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Governor, through his Department of Health, is asking a judge to order the clerk of the Orphans Court to issue marriage licenses to one man and one woman, as marriage is defined in Pennsylvania law.

The state's court filing says the clerk must "cease and desist immediately from issuing marriage licenses to individuals of the same gender in violation of the law."

But the clerk is issuing licenses based on Attorney General Kathleen Kane's belief that the law is unconstitutional, and she won't defend it in court.

Montgomery County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on July 23.

By Friday, the county issued 26 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Corbett, who was in the Philadelphia area Tuesday, argued state law must be enforced.

"The law is still the law in Pennsylvania," the governor said. "It has not been overturned by any ruling of the Supreme Court and, until such time the court overturns the law, it has to be enforced."

Corbett argued that if voters want the marriage law changed, the legislature should change it.

Asked if he'd sign a bill allowing same sex couples to marry, the governor says he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Again, the Montgomery County solicitor issued a statement saying, "While it comes as no surprise that the Corbett Administration has filed an action seeking to enjoin marriage equality in Montgomery County, the petition filed today in Commonwealth Court by the state Department of Health has serious flaws."

Montgomery County Solicitor Ray McGarry added, "Montgomery County will be filing a response shortly. In the meantime, the Register of Wills office will continue to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples."

READ MORE: State's Petition For_Review_Seeking_Writ_Of_Mandamus

We spoke with State Senator Daylin Leach at one of his campaign offices about the issue.

He's a registered officiant, chair of the Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgender Caucus, and sponsor of a marriage equality bill.

He married a Montco couple Monday.

He thinks the lawsuit will actually push Pennsylvania towards legalizing gay marriage.

"It will hopefully bring closer the day that this law is put into the ash heap of history, along with a lot of other laws that prohibited interracial marriage and were otherwise discriminatory. It's time that everyone has the opportunity to marry the person they care about," Senator Daylin Leach. "I actually look forward to a court finally ruling that Pennsylvania's antiquated and discriminatory marriage law is unconstitutional."

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