IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Corbett files suit to block same-sex marriage licenses

MaddowBlog reader Jess and her partner last week, after receiving their marriage license.
MaddowBlog reader Jess and her partner last week, after receiving their marriage license.

Last week, my colleague Laura Conaway published a report on developments near Philadelphia, where county clerk D. Bruce Hanes announced he's granting marriage license to couples, gay or straight, who wish to get married in Montgomery County. Hanes insisted his policy is consistent with the Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and in line with the judgment of the state Attorney General, who believes the state's law discrimination against gay couples is unconstitutional.

But for now, marriage equality is not the law in Pennsylvania, and the state's Republican administration filed suit today to stop Hanes from treating local couples equally.

The Corbett administration on Tuesday filed a lawsuit to stop the Montgomery County register of wills from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes has issued 34 licenses to gay couples. His deputy, Joan Nagle, said he would not comment, on the advice of counsel.

The lawsuit in Commonwealth Court seeks a court order to halt the marriages the state contends are illegal.

In the meantime Hanes' office has become the target of far-right protests. Late last week, the Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania held a "pray-in" at the clerk's office, arguing that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples represents a "war on children."

As for Hanes, the clerk has reportedly been advised by his attorney not to comment on the matter publicly. The suit against him from the Corbett administration alleges his stance on marriage licenses could do "untold harm to the public."