Pennsylvania: Gay couples challenge anti-equal marriage law in court

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

21 same-sex couples are calling on the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to declare their marriages valid and the Pennsylvania Marriage Law unconstitutional.

In a hearing yesterday the attorney for Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett argued that “as a matter of law, [those couples] simply aren’t married.”

The couples – consisting of 14 pairs of women and seven pairs of men – have been in limbo following a court ruling preventing Montgomery County Clerk D Bruce Hanes from issuing further licences to same-sex couples – but the court said nothing about marriages already performed and recorded.

Mr Hanes said he wanted to come down “on the right side of history and the law” when he began issuing the licences in late July.

But the Pennsylvania 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 law in the state defines marriage as a contract between one man and one woman.

A new lawsuit was filed on Wednesday arguing the ban is unconstitutional at a federal and state level.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the suit lists financial, legal, and emotional damages suffered by same-sex couples and says the legislature passed the law “based on no more than animus and fear.”