Written in Ink

Same-Sex Marriage: Local Officials Fight

When the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's law, Bruce Hanes, the Montgomery County Register of Wills started giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Today, a judge told him to stop.

Though it's wrapped in a 34-page decision, which I haven't read, the Judge Dan Pellegrini's ruling is being capsulized as that only the legislature or a court can change the law, it's not up to individual officials, what laws they choose to enforce.

Similarly in 2004, a New Mexico county clerk started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples because New Mexico law does not define marriage as between a man and a woman, but after people started coming from all around, she was stopped by the State Attorney General, the court and was censured by her party.


While last month, a different county clerk from a different New Mexico county tried the tactic again and over the course of the next couple of weeks, it looks like at least five judges ordered different counties to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses and several other county clerks have said they'll do the same. So, with the clerks of thirty-three counties either issuing same-sex marriage licenses or are planning to do so, their statewide organization has asked the State Supreme Court for a ruling and the hearing is scheduled for October 9th.

What's different though, between the two scenarios is that there is no governing New Mexico law, while the official in Pennsylvania was doing it in defiance of something which had been passed by the legislature because he thinks it could be overturned.

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