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  #1  
Old 07-23-2013, 07:52 PM
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Angry Montgomery County To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same Sex Couples

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/201...e-sex-couples/

Montgomery County To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same Sex Couples
July 23, 2013 3:18 PM
By Brad Segall, Walt Hunter

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – Officials in Montgomery County say the county is ready to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples even though gay marriages and civil unions are not recognized in Pennsylvania.

County officials say two women approached them about a week ago asking to apply for a marriage license. Register of Wills Bruce Hanes and his lawyer determined it was legal to issue the license. The women, after having conversations with the ACLU, never showed up Tuesday afternoon to apply.

Commissioner Josh Shapiro still hopes this opens the door for other couples to approach the county.

“And it’s my hope, as it’s been my hope for many years, that we can bring marriage equality to Pennsylvania and we want to be at the forefront of that discussion right here in Montgomery County,” said Shapiro.

He says this clearly shows they are open and respectful to all people in the county.

The American Civil Liberties Union has launched a challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on same sex marriages. The attorney for the two women says his clients were concerned the license would be challenged on procedural grounds and the courts wouldn’t address the issue of marriage equality.
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Old 07-24-2013, 07:13 PM
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Default Re: Montgomery County To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same Sex Couples

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/201...me-sex-couple/

Montgomery County Issues First Marriage License To Gay Couple
July 24, 2013 4:09 PM


Alicia Terrizzi (left) and her partner Loreen Bloodgood (right).

By Brad Segall

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – Even though same-sex marriages and civil unions are not recognized by the state of Pennsylvania, Montgomery County has begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples who began showing up at the Register of Wills Wednesday morning.

Loreen Bloodgood and Alicia Terrizzi of the Pottstown area were there bright and early with their two children after learning late Tuesday that Montgomery County would issue them a marriage license.

“We’re no different than anybody else…finally it’s recognized,” Terrizzi said. “It doesn’t make any difference to us. Nothing is going to change, but now we’re going to have a piece of paper so everybody else recognizes.”

After meeting with county officials, they applied for the license which was granted. Bloodgood says they’ve been together 17 years and this is the day they’ve been looking forward to:

“We believe in it not only for ourselves and the love that we have, but we think it’s really important to show our children that we are a family and we are just like their friends who have moms and dads.”

They were granted a waiver of the three day waiting period and they were on their way to get married.

Register of Wills’ Bruce Hanes says he’s coming down on the right side of history and the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union has launched a court challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on same sex marriages and civil unions. Another couple planning to apply for a license backed away yesterday after meeting with the ACLU’s attorneys.
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  #3  
Old 07-25-2013, 08:47 AM
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Default Re: Montgomery County To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same Sex Couples

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/...216837491.html

Corbett's Office Responds to Defiance of Pa. Gay Marriage Ban
By MaryClaire Dale | Wednesday, Jul 24, 2013 | Updated 7:14 PM EDT

The press secretary for Republican Governor Tom Corbett responded to a Pennsylvania county that is defying a state ban on same-sex marriage.

“Individual elected officials cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce,” wrote press secretary Nils Hagen-Frederiksen in a released statement. “All officials are constitutionally required to administer and enforce the laws that are enacted by the Legislature. Only the courts have the power to declare a law to be unconstitutional and to suspend its effects.”

At least five same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses on Wednesday in Montgomery County.

Dykes Alicia Terrizzi and Loreen Bloodgood, of Pottstown, were the only couple to marry right away, exchanging vows in a park before a minister and their two young sons.

"We're not setting out to be pioneers. We don't think our family is any different than anybody else,'' said Terrizzi, a 45-year-old teacher. "We've been waiting a long time for this.''

The licenses issued Wednesday in Montgomery County are believed to be the first to same-sex couples in Pennsylvania, the only northeastern state without same-sex marriages or civil unions.

A 1996 Pennsylvania law defines marriage as a civil contract in which a man and a woman take each other as husband and wife, and it says same-sex marriages, even ones entered legally elsewhere, are void in Pennsylvania.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit this month seeking to overturn the law.

Officials in the affluent and increasingly Democratic county signaled this week that they would nevertheless grant licenses to same-sex couples.

The county officials and the same-sex couples who marry could find themselves in court if Corbett or other state officials challenge their actions. In other states with same-sex marriage bans, licenses issued by defiant local officials have been voided by courts.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman, a Republican, said Wednesday evening that a same-sex marriage license wasn't legally valid under existing Pennsylvania law but "the remedy for issuing an invalid marriage license does not include intervention by the office of the district attorney.''

“The register of wills cannot change the laws of this commonwealth by simply ignoring them,'' Ferman said in a statement. ``If that change comes, it will be through Pennsylvania courts or the Legislature.''

"Today I feel like a full citizen,'' said Marcus Saitschenko, 52, of Philadelphia, who came to the suburban courthouse with his partner of 22 years, James Goldstein. ``We're just hoping that the state will recognize it.''

Montgomery County is the state's third-largest county in terms of population.

The licenses were issued a day after the county's Register of Wills, D. Bruce Hanes, said he would grant them to gay couples because he wanted to come down ``on the right side of history and the law.''

Hanes said he studied the state constitution and the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act before deciding last week to grant same-sex licenses.

“I think the constitution trumps the (state marriage) statute,'' Hanes said. ``This to me is a fundamental civil right.''

Ted Martin, the executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, said that, to the best of his knowledge, the licenses were the first same-sex marriage licenses ever issued in Pennsylvania.

Retired marketing executive Ellen Toplin, 60, and partner Charlene Kurland, 69, sought a license Wednesday after 22 years together. Both had previously been married to men, and between them have three children and one grandchild.

Kurland said there was a time "I didn't even think I could say the word lesbian.''

She added: "I knew how I felt, but it was not an option. It was expected that I would marry a man, have children and have two cars in the suburbs. ... I think it's wonderful for young people today to be able to be who they are.''

Two women had considered applying for a license Tuesday, but they changed course after their lawyer talked to the ACLU, which raised concerns about the strategy, given the likelihood of a separate court challenge.

Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane has announced that she will not defend the state's gay marriage ban, leaving Corbett and his legal team to defend the ACLU lawsuit.

Bruce Castor, a Republican county commissioner and a former prosecutor, has said he had urged Hanes not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He said Kane's office could be asked by an opponent of same-sex marriage to seek a court order stopping Hanes, Corbett's office could go to court to stop it or a county judge could step in.

The Rev. Craig Andrussier, a nondenominational minister licensed to perform weddings in Pennsylvania, said he married Terrizzi and Bloodgood in a brief ceremony. They have a larger ceremony planned next week with family and friends, he said.

He called Wednesday's ceremony something ``they can tell their grandchildren about.''

“I feel great. I feel honored,'' Andrussier said.
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  #4  
Old 07-26-2013, 07:03 AM
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Default Re: Montgomery County To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same Sex Couples

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/...216991491.html

Group to Protest Same-Sex Marriage in MontCo
By Queen Muse | Friday, Jul 26, 2013 | Updated 8:52 AM EDT

Alicia Terrizzi and Loreen Bloodgood were the first same-sex couple to receive their marriage license in Montgomery County this week, but they certainly weren't the last.

According to Montgomery County's Register of Wills office, as of Thursday, 11 same-sex couples received marriage licenses, despite a state law that bans the practice.

Same-sex couples began lining up at the county office on Wednesday morning after Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes said he would grant licenses to gay couples.

Not everyone is thrilled about the decision.

The Pro-life Coalition of Pennsylvania has issued a statement calling for Hanes' arrest for issuing the licenses.

"We urge the Register of Wills, Bruce Hanes, to stop issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples. We urge Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman to charge Bruce Hanes for his violation of state law by issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples," the statement said.

Hanes made the decision, he said, after both a legal consult and consideration of Attorney General Kathleen Kane's stance on same-sex marriages. Kane said recently she would not defend the state's law effectively banning same-sex marriages. That has left Governor Tom Corbett in the position of having to decide if his office will defend the state's law in court. It's being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union. While Corbett reacted this week to Hane's decision by saying no local official trumps state law, he has now said if he plans to fight the ACLU lawsuit.

"Numerous recent actions by "homosexual marriage" supporters indicate that they are also willing to violate existing laws and trample on the freedom of religion, speech and assembly of other Americans to achieve their goal," the Pro-life Coalition's statement reads. "Pro-life Pennsylvanians need to protect Pa's marriage law and oppose the ongoing war on children with greatly increased clarity and zeal."

Mike McMonagle, president of the Coalition says the group will be stage a pro-marriage pray-in at the county building this afternoon.

"We will be in the office to speak with the officials in the office and then we're going to kneel down to pray in the office. I think it will be a start to rally the pro-marriage forces in our county and our state," McMonagle said.

"The purpose is to make the case for marriage. This is to let elected officials know that it's a large consistency of people that oppose the efforts of one register of wills to change our pro-marriage laws. And he's deceiving these couples because its highly unlikely that these licenses will be recognized."

Shortly after they received their marriage license this week, Terrizzi and Bloodgood became the first couple to be married in the county. Bloodgood admitted she was nervous about the idea that the marriage might not be valid outside of Montgomery County.

"I was nervous; I didn't know really know what it meant. I mean, there's a part of me that thought it doesn't matter, they're gonna invalidate it anyway. And it's a shame to feel that way, but that's kind of the first thing that went through my mind," Bloodgood said.

Leonore Carpenter, Assistant Professor at theTemple University Beasley School of Law, said she worries that the couples don't fully understand what their licenses will mean outside of the county.

"It’s unlikely that these marriages will be recognized as valid. In other states where this has happened, those state’s courts have declared those marriages invalid, so I think it’s quite likely that both the Federal government and other states would be hesitant to treat them as valid," Carpenter said.

"I am very concerned that some couples might not understand the legal uncertainty of these kinds of marriage licenses, and might obtain such a license thinking that it will give them the same rights and responsibilities that married couples enjoy. The truly scary part is that these couples might have no way of knowing whether their marriage would be recognized until some event occurred where the existence of a marriage is important, such as the death or serious illness of a spouse."
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  #5  
Old 07-26-2013, 07:12 AM
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Default Re: Montgomery County To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same Sex Couples

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/...217079201.html

Clerks: 3 Other Pa. Counties Won't Marry Gays
Friday, Jul 26, 2013 | Updated 6:40 AM EDT

A conservative group has planned a "pray-in" to protest an eastern Pennsylvania county officials decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and officials in three nearby counties say they'll abide by current state law and not issue such licenses.

Michael McMonigle, president of the Pro-Life Coalition of Pa., says he expects 20 to 30 people at the prayerful protest in Norristown on Friday. That's where Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes began issuing licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday.

But Hanes' counterparts in Berks, Delaware and York counties, all in southeastern Pennsylvania, say they won't be following suit. Those officials say they'll continue to abide by a state law defining marriage as a contract between one man and one woman unless and until the courts or lawmakers change the statute.
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Old 07-30-2013, 08:18 PM
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Default Re: Montgomery County To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same Sex Couples

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/201...iage-licenses/

Pa. Sues To Stop Issuance Of Gay Marriage Licenses in Montco
July 30, 2013 1:31 PM
By Mark Abrams

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The Corbett administration has filed suit against Montgomery County’s register of wills, seeking an order to stop him from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

A lawyer for the Pennsylvania Department of Health walked into Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg today seeking a court order to stop Montgomery County register of wills Bruce Hanes from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of state law which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Shortly thereafter, Hanes’ deputy, Joan Nagle, told KYW Newsradio that on the advice of counsel, there will be no comment on the action.

A spokesman for the Montgomery County Commissioners, who are divided on the issue, says he had not seen the suit and could offer no comment.

Why did the lawsuit come from the state’s health department? The health department is the agency which oversees vital statistics, including marriage licenses. The lawsuit asks the court to prevent Hanes from giving them to gay couples because it violates state law.

Hanes began issuing licenses to same-sex couples last week. He has said he wanted to come down “on the right side of history and the law”.

Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state without same-sex marriages or civil unions.

Hanes’ announcement that he would issue the documents to same-sex couples came just days after the state’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, made a speech in which she said it was her opinion the state’s marriage laws were unconstitutional and she wouldn’t defend them in court (see related story).

But Gov. Tom Corbett, who opposes same-sex marriages, says Kane and Hanes are on the wrong side of the law.

“Elected officials do not have the ability to choose which laws they are going to enforce and which laws they are not going to enforce,” Corbett said today.

He said it’s up to the state legislature to make or change the law, and for the state Supreme Court or US Supreme Court to decide issues of constitutionality.
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Old 08-03-2013, 09:17 AM
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Default Re: Montgomery County To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same Sex Couples

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/201...cense-lawsuit/

Montco Asks Pa. Judge To Toss Pennsylvania’s Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit
August 2, 2013 12:36 PM
By Brad Segall and Jenn Bernstein

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Montgomery County Solicitor Ray McGarry filed a response to a lawsuit challenging the Register of Wills Bruce Hanes’ decision to grant same-sex marriage licenses.

On Tuesday, the State Department of Health filed a lawsuit against Hanes, contending he’s breaking state law by issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

The county has now responded to the lawsuit, claiming that Commonwealth Court has no jurisdiction in the case, the Department of Health has no standing, and there’s no clear “right to relief.”

“What we say is that they have no specific interest or authority over the issuance of the licenses themselves, and therefore they cannot allege any particularized harm,” says county solicitor Ray McGarry.

“What we have here is a situation where Bruce Hanes took an oath of office that required him to fulfill the duties of his office by following the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution,” Solicitor McGarry also said. “So he was left in a situation where there was a statute which says that he can’t do something, and the Constitution, which both he believes and the Attorney General had stated that she believed was unconstitutional. So when you are left in a dilemma deciding between the laws, he decided the Constitution was the law that he should follow.”

The county argues that the law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman violates the state and U.S. constitutions because it denies civil rights to gay couples.

The county has issued 49 marriage certificates to same-sex couples. Several have already married.
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Old 08-09-2013, 12:08 PM
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Angry Re: Montgomery County To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same Sex Couples

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/...219000601.html

Montco Issues 100th Same-Sex Marriage License
By MARYCLAIRE DALE | Friday, Aug 9, 2013 | Updated 12:11 PM EDT

A suburban Philadelphia county defying Pennsylvania's marriage act has issued its 100th same-sex license since July 24.

Montgomery County Democrats behind the move say they believe the state ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. The county's Register of Wills, D. Bruce Hanes, says he is granting the licenses because he wants to come down "on the right side of history and the law."

It's unclear whether the practice will survive a legal challenge from Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's administration. They're suing Hanes from issuing more licenses.

Montgomery County's attorneys, however, are defending Hanes' right to violate a law he deems unconstitutional.

And the American Civil Liberties Union instead hopes to overturn the state ban in federal court.

Nicole and Ginny Perrine-Wilson of Lansdowne picked up the 100th same-sex license Friday.

They've been together for 15 years, and share a last name and young daughter.

Ginny Perrine-Wilson says the couple doesn't expect to reap all of the benefits of marriage right away, given the ongoing legal fight.

But she says they want to marry in Pennsylvania, and be part of the movement that helps change the law.
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  #9  
Old 08-29-2013, 11:10 AM
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Default Re: Montgomery County To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same Sex Couples

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/...221574841.html

Pa. Attorneys: "Gays, Like Children, Can't Marry"
Thursday, Aug 29, 2013 | Updated 11:41 AM EDT

Marriage licenses given to same-sex couples in the state are invalid because the couples were barred from marrying, just like 12-year-olds, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's attorneys said Wednesday.

Corbett's administration has filed a lawsuit seeking to block same-sex marriage licenses in suburban Philadelphia, where Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes has issued more than 150 to gay and lesbian couples since July 24.

State attorneys said in a court filing on Wednesday the gay marriage licenses have no "value or legitimacy'' and can't be defended in court. They compared gay and lesbian couples to children, who can't marry because a 1996 law says marriage is between a man and a woman.

"Had the clerk issued marriage licenses to 12-year-olds in violation of state law, would anyone seriously contend that each 12-year-old ... is entitled to a hearing on the validity of his 'license'?'' the state wrote in a case brief.

The state Department of Health brought the case against Hanes. Hanes, who says the state law is unconstitutional and discriminatory, is scheduled to appear in Commonwealth Court next week in the case.

More than 30 gay and lesbian couples that received marriage licenses from Hanes say a ruling against him could invalidate their marriages, and they've sought to participate in the case.

The state opposes their participation and their efforts to defend what it calls their "purported marriage licenses.'' It said the gay and lesbian couples should file their own lawsuits or wait to see what happens with a federal challenge to the state's marriage law.

"This case is about one thing: whether a local official may willfully disregard a statute based on his personal legal opinion that the statute is unconstitutional,'' the state's lawyers wrote.

The Commonwealth Court last week laid out the topics to be argued at the Sept. 4 hearing on the marriage licenses issued by Hanes. It wants lawyers to focus on whether the court has jurisdiction, given that Hanes is a judicial officer.

Other questions are whether issuing marriage licenses is a judicial act and whether the constitutionality of the state's marriage law can be raised as a defense.

Also at issue are whether the Department of Health has standing to sue, and, if not, the effect of Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane's delegation of defense of the law to the governor's legal staff.
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Old 09-12-2013, 10:38 AM
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Thumbs up Re: Montgomery County To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same Sex Couples

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/201...iage-licenses/

Judge Halts Issuance of Same-Sex Marriage Licenses in Montco
September 12, 2013 12:09 PM
By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — A Pennsylvania judge today ordered the registrar of wills in Montgomery County to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Without addressing the issue of the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriages, Judge Dante Pellegrini ruled that Montgomery County registrar of wills D. Bruce Hanes was acting outside his powers when he granted licenses to same-sex applicants, in defiance of state law.

In his ruling today in Commonwealth Court, the judge said that Hanes has “admittedly failed to comply with his mandatory ministerial public duty” under the marriage law.

The opinion goes on to say that even if Hanes is correct in his view that portions of the Pennsylvania marriage law are unconstitutional, the proper response is for aggrieved parties to bring an appropriate court action to challenge the law.

Hanes issued four more licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday, bringing the total number to 174.

The Corbett administration took him to court after he began issuing them in July. That was after the US Supreme Court threw out portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and state attorney general Kathleen Kane called the Pennsylvania ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
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