Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes and other county officials responded to Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini’s decision forcing Hanes to stop issuing same-sex marriages Thursday, announcing that they will review the decision with the possibility of appeal, but will fully comply with the court’s order.
Hanes said he was “obviously disappointed," but he hopes that his decision helps the effort to move marriage equality forward.
“Several weeks ago when I made the decision to begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, I said I believed I was coming down on the right side of history,” Hanes said. “After having issued 174 marriage licenses since then and having talked with many of those couples, I am more convinced today that I am on the right side of history. “
Montgomery County Commissioner Chairman Josh Shapiro, who came out in support of the decision in July, said that this is one step in a long process over marriage equality.
“I will continue to be an advocate for justice and fight for marriage equality in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said.
Commissioner Leslie Richards said she respects the decision of the Commonwealth Court, but remains disappointed.
“The fundamental point that should not be lost is that two people who love each other should have the ability to get married and share a life together,” Richards said.
Commissioner Bruce Castor, the lone Republican on the board, was opposed to the issuance of the marriage certificates since Hanes made the announcement; Castor said that the issue belonged in court.
“Whatever your take on the merits, executive officials cannot be permitted to decide which laws to enforce and which ones not to,” Castor said. “That is what this case is about. It is not, as so many want to make it, a referendum on same sex marriage.”
Pellegrini stated in his decision that Hanes's action was not a “proper forum” for the determination, “even if Hanes is correct in his view” that the law is unconstitutional.
“The proper method for those aggrieved is to bring a separate action in the proper forum raising their challenges to the marriage law,” said Pellegrini.