Commonwealth Court on Thursday ordered Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes to “cease and desist from issuing marriage licenses” to gay and lesbian couples. President Judge Dan Pellegrini avoided the major controversial issues – the constitutionality of the state’s same-sex marriage ban, the status of couples who have already married, and the state attorney general’s refusal to defend the ban – and ruled narrowly that Hanes lacked the authority to ignore state law and must immediately stop.
So what happens next? Maddow Blog reports:
It’s not yet clear whether Hanes will appeal, or what his chances might be in higher courts, but in the meantime, there’s a more pressing question: what happens to those same-sex couples in Montgomery County who’ve already received marriage licenses? According to the Associated Press account, their fate is “not immediately clear,” though it seems likely the state of Pennsylvania is about to un-marry them.
It’s an unfortunate end to what it seemed like such a hopeful event, but not entirely surprising. Will it help fuel the movement to remove the Pennsylvania ban altogether?