Montgomery County Clerk Challenges Pennsylvania’s Ban on Gay Marriage
Over the past few weeks, the elected register of wills in Montgomery County has been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage. So far, at least 100 licenses have been issued to gay men and women hoping to receive the same rights and protections under the law as heterosexual couples.
As the only Northeastern state that does not legally recognize same-sex marriage, the county clerk’s actions have caused a stir on both sides of the issue.
Supporters argue that the open defiance is an act of civil disobedience, not unlike women fighting for the right to vote, or African Americans fighting for civil rights. However, opponents say the county clerk is flat out breaking the law and “may be guilty of a misdemeanor for each act of neglect or refusal.”
In defense of his actions, the clerk cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that the federal government could not deny benefits to gay married couples living in states that allow same-sex marriage.
The clerk is facing a lawsuit from the state Health Department and Governor Tom Corbett for a separation-of-powers violation.
While same-sex couples understand that change may not happen overnight, the clerk’s decision may be an impetus to change the state law.
With the issue of marriage equality in Pennsylvania still under debate, it is important to seek the legal guidance of an accomplished lawyer to help you understand and protect your rights. Same-sex family law attorney Sheryl R. Rentz can help those in a domestic partnership understand their legal options if they decide to split. Call (610) 645-0100 for a no-cost consultation regarding your situation.