By Mark Abrams
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — Today is the deadline for Montgomery county’s Register of Wills to file written legal arguments defending his decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of the state’s marriage law.
A legal brief is due in Commonwealth Court today from lawyers representing Register of Wills Bruce Hanes outlining his reasoning for defying state law which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Hanes began issuing licenses to same-sex couples last month, arguing that the state marriage law violates the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitution.
The state Health Department sued Hanes and is seeking a court order to stop him from issuing the licenses.
Last Monday, lawyers for the state filed their legal brief arguing that Hanes actions risk causing serious administrative and legal chaos.
Commonwealth Court has agreed to expedited consideration of the case, but has not yet assigned a judge or scheduled formal legal arguments.
Hanes already has issued more than 100 marriage licenses to gay couples and says he will continue to issue those licenses.
Hanes contends the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage and the announced refusal by the state’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, to defend the state’s marriage law in any court challenge, justify his actions.