County appeals same-sex marriage ruling

As promised, Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes has appealed to the state Supreme Court to overturn a judge's order barring Hanes from issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Hanes argues that Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini's ruling was "based on anumber of legal and factual errors."  The appeal features no new arguments, but reiterates the claims that Pellegrini had rejected:

That the Commonwealth Court was not the proper jurisdiction to hear the case.

That the state Department of Health did not have standing to bring the lawsuit.

That the Health Department suffered no provable harm from the 174 licenses that had already been issued to same-sex couples.

And that the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban should be considered in this case.

Pellegrini, in a hearing Sept. 4 in Harrisburg, refused to consider the validity of the law because this particular case, Commonwealth v. Hanes, involved a more narrow legal and bureaucratic question -- Does a county official have the authority to ignore or declare invalid a law passed by the Legislature?

Pellegrini decided Hanes did not have that authority, and on Sept. 12 ordered Hanes to immediately stop issuing the licenses. Since then, at least three new lawsuits have been filed challenging the constitutionality of the law on its face.