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Montco, Leading The Way For Same-Sex Marriages, Now Sidelined on Issuing Licenses

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(Montgomery County register of wills D. Bruce Hanes, in 2013 file photo by KYW's Brad Segall)

(Montgomery County register of wills D. Bruce Hanes, in 2013 file photo by KYW’s Brad Segall)

Gregg_Cherrie--NEW Cherri Gregg
Cherri Gregg is the community affairs reporter for KYW Newsr...
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By Cherri Gregg

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Same-sex couples are rushing to get marriage licenses throughout Pennsylvania, following Tuesday’s court order striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage (see related story).

But there’s a minor snafu in one county — Montgomery County — where the first Pennsylvania licenses for same-sex marriages were handed out.

Last summer, Montgomery County register of wills Bruce Hanes defied Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage, issuing scores of marriage licenses to same-sex couples (see related story).

But now that marriage equality is a reality in the commonwealth, Hanes is still feeling the pain of his insubordination.

“There is an order against me, prohibiting my issuing of marriage licenses in Montgomery County,” he notes.

The Montgomery County solicitor filed an emergency petition two days ago to vacate the order prohibiting Hanes from issues licenses to same-sex couples, and the Commonwealth has consented to it.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court still has not taken action.

Montgomery County spokesman Frank Custer says that for the time being, the county has no choice but to send same-sex couples elsewhere.

“We are providing them with locations of other county courthouses where they can go to,” he says.

As for the status of the marriage licenses issued by Hanes to same-sex couples last summer, “Our lawyers’ position is those marriages are legal based on their reading of the order issued by the federal judge,” says Custer, who notes the county has not reached out to those couples.

Custer says marriage licenses have a 60-day shelf life, so any couples who failed to get married during that timeframe will have to get another license for their marriage to be valid.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is expected to act soon.

 

 

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