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Gay Couples Ask State Court to Overturn Pennsylvania Marriage Law

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(Supporters of marriage equality in Pennsylvania demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania Judicial Center in Harrisburg, where arguments were heard on September 4th on Montgomergy County's issuance of licenses to same-sex couples.  Credit: Tony Romeo)

(Supporters of marriage equality in Pennsylvania demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania Judicial Center in Harrisburg, where arguments were heard on September 4th on Montgomergy County’s issuance of licenses to same-sex couples. Credit: Tony Romeo)

Brad Segall Brad Segall
Brad Segall is the award-winning Suburban Bureau chief at KYW...
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By Brad Segall

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Twenty-one same sex couples have filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court, asking the justices to declare their marriages legal and Pennsylvania’s marriage law unconstitutional.

The couples got married after receiving their licenses from Montgomery County register of wills D. Bruce Hanes.   But when Commonwealth Court ordered Hanes to stop issuing the licenses earlier this month (see related story), nothing was said about their unions.

Attorney Bob Heim filed the lawsuit on behalf of the couples, and says they believe their marriages are valid.

“But the state has said otherwise in some of its pronouncements,” Heims tells KYW Newsradio.  “Sometimes the state isn’t all that clear about what they’re saying, but enough to create a cloud.  And we want that cloud dispelled.”

The suit argues that the law defining marriage as only between one man and one woman violates federal and state constitutional rights to equal protection.

A spokesman for the Corbett administration says they are still reviewing the suit.

Meanwhile, yet another challenge to Pennsylvania’s marriage law was filed today in federal court.  Two Philadelphia-area women who were married in Massachusetts want the court to force Pennsylvania to recognize their marriage.

It is at least the fourth legal case involving the state’s marriage law.

(KYW Harrisburg bureau chief Tony Romeo contributed to this report.)

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