A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge sided with the Pennsylvania Department of Health in a lawsuit against Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce
Hanes, forcing him to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
According to a decision handed down by Judge Dan Pellegrini on Thursday, Hanes does not have the power to decide the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban on his own, and his action was in violation of his legal authority.
In July, Hanes announced that he would issue the marriage licenses, stating that he took an oath to uphold the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions, citing the right granted to men to “pursue their own happiness."
The Pennsylvania Department of Health sued Hanes, stating that the issuance of the licenses would cause “administrative and legal chaos,” and that it was against state law.
On Sept. 4, Pellegrini heard arguments from Montgomery County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; topics heard included jurisdiction and standing, and if Hanes was considered a judicial officer in his role as Register of Wills; the constitutionality of the same-sex marriage ban was not a topic heard by the judge.
As of close of business Wednesday, Hanes had issued a total of 174 marriage licenses to gay couples, primarily from Montgomery County.