D. Bruce Hanes, Montgomery County Pa. Official, To Issue Licenses Against State's Gay Marriage Ban

County Official Defies State's Contentious Gay Marriage Ban

A Pennsylvania county official is standing up in the face of state's same-sex marriage ban.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday that D. Bruce Hanes, Montgomery County's register of wills, announced his office would issue marriage licenses to gay couples. The move would defy a state law that has been in existence since 1996.

"I decided to come down on the right side of history and the law," Hanes said, according to the Inquirer.

The Pottstown, Pa. Mercury added early Wednesday that two women looking to marry approached Hanes last week, leading to an intense dissection of the state's same-sex marriage ban. While he was prepared to issue them a license, the couple decided against it for "reasons of their own," Hanes told the Mercury.

Hanes' decision arrives nearly two weeks after the American Civil Liberties Union brought a lawsuit against Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban, aiming to apply the Supreme Court's late-June decision that DOMA is unconstitutional.

"What we're looking for is for the court to say: Here we are in the 21st century, and you cannot prohibit somebody from participating in this wonderful institution we call marriage," Witold "Vic" Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania ACLU, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in mid-July.

Two days after the ACLU announced its lawsuit, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane proclaimed that she would not defend the state's gay marriage ban in the face of that ACLU legal challenge.

"I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's version of DOMA as I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional," she said at a July 11 press conference in Philadelphia.

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