US: Pennsylvania judge orders clerk to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples

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A Pennsylvania judge has ordered a Philadelphia clerk to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini said that D Bruce Hanes did not have the power to decide on his own whether Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban violates the state’s constitution.

Mr Hanes, who worked as Montgomery County’s Register of Wills, had said he wanted to come down “on the right side of history and the law” when he began issuing the licenses in late July.

The Department of Health filed a lawsuit against Mr Hanes soon after, saying that the clerk had been “acting in clear derogation of the marriage law,” by issuing the licences to same-sex couples.

The court began hearing arguments around the case last week. Mr Hanes had previously said he was “not a crusader” but simply doing what was right.

He added: “Some people have said I’ve broken the law, which I may have done but I’ve broken an unconstitutional law.”

It is not immediately clear what the decision will mean for those same-sex couples who have already been issued with marriage licenses.

More to follow.