Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Philadelphia Clerk Headed to Court


Despite Pennsylvania’s law against same-sex marriage, Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes has issued 164 marriage licenses to same-sex couples since July, with 98 of them completed, returned, and filed.

Republican Governor Tom Corbett’s Health Department is now seeking to stop the suburban Philadelphia court clerk from issuing any more licenses.  After the U.S. Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling, Hanes argues a conflict exists between his constitutional duties and the same-sex marriage ban.

The Commonwealth Court has narrowed the issues to “whether they have jurisdiction, given Hanes’ status as a judicial officer; if handing out licenses is considered a judicial act; and whether Hanes can argue in his own defense that the marriage law is unconstitutional.”

Similar practices have been going on in New Mexico where several county clerks have taken it upon themselves to issue same-sex marriage licenses in a state that bans them.

See Mark Scolforo, Pa. Same-Sex Marriage License Case Heads to Court, Associated Press, Sept. 4, 2013.


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