Pa. officials: Same-sex marriage licenses issued in state not valid

Aug. 29, 2013 at 1:09 AM

HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Marriage licenses issued to gay and lesbian couples are as meaningless as those issued to 12-year-olds, Pennsylvania officials said in a legal brief Wednesday.

The brief was filed in a lawsuit brought by the state Department of Health against D. Bruce Hanes, the registrar of wills in Montgomery County, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Hanes began granting licenses to same-sex couples July 24, saying the state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.

The state argued in its brief 32 of the 154 same-sex couples who have received marriage licenses should not be allowed to intervene in the litigation.

The brief said the couples have no standing: "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 couples should file a federal lawsuit challenging the Pennsylvania law, if they want to overturn it, the brief said, arguing the lawsuit is about a single issue: "whether a local official may willfully disregard a statute based on his personal legal opinion that the statute is unconstitutional."

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett opposes same-sex marriage. The Republicans also hold majorities in both houses of the state Legislature.

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