The troubled Republican, who has been accused of accepting gifts in exchange for government contracts, is trying to distract attention from himself by attacking Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes.
On July 24, Hanes began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As he told NBC News Philadelphia, “I just think it’s important for people to know that I’m not doing anything based upon my opinion; I think it’s an equal privilege issue.”
The Corbett Administration disagrees, despite the fact that in June the U.S. Supreme Court deemed key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Beyond that, Penn. Attorney General Kathleen Kane refused to defend the state’s gay marriage ban, citing its questionable legal grounding.
As a result, last month Corbett instructed the Pennsylvania Department of Health to file a lawsuit against Hanes, who has issued more than 150 same-sex marriage licenses to date. The lawsuit cites a 1996 statute that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Yesterday, Corbett further clarified his position.
According to Philly.com, states attorneys filed a brief in court that said, “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’?”
Unless your name is Calvin Klein, the difference between marrying a person of the same sex and marrying a 12-year-old should be self-evident. Such rhetoric indicates desperation on the part of the state, as Corbett appears to be fighting a losing battle. He’s the subject of a separate ACLU lawsuit seeking to place an injunction on the state’s gay marriage ban, and he’s rapidly losing support among both colleagues and constituents.
Nevertheless, Corbett and Hanes’ teams will bring their arguments to court next Wednesday, Sept. 4. One of the key decisions to follow will be whether or not Haynes is allowed to use the unconstitutionality of Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban to defend his decision to issue same-sex marriage licenses.