Montgomery County Register of Wills [official website] D. Bruce Hanes on Tuesday appealed a lower court order [text] to cease issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court [official website]. Hanes, who began granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples following Attorney General Kathleen Kane's [official website] statement that United States v. Windsor [JURIST reports] ruling left the Pennsylvania Marriage Law [text] unconstitutional. In his appeal, Hanes argues the lower court lacked proper jurisdiction to issue the order. Hanes had issued 174 same-sex marriage licenses before the lower court order was issued. It is currently unclear if those marriages will be recognized.
The issue of same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] in Pennsylvania has become increasingly controversial recently. In September, two lawsuits were filed seeking recognition of their marriages. The first seeking recognition of a Massachusetts marriage and the second seeking official recognition [JURIST reports] of marriages granted by Hanes. Shortly before, Hanes was officially ordered [JURIST reports] to stop issuing the licenses. In July the Pennsylvania Department of Health filed a petition [JURIST report] in the Commonwealth Court [official website] seeking to stop Hanes from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Also in July the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania. The Governor's Office of General Counsel [official website] wrote [text, PDF] to the attorney general in defense of the Pennsylvania statute, arguing that Windsor does not strike down the state's marriage law, but just the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).