John Kandray and Bill Gray
Saying he believes Pennsylvania’s law prohibiting same-sex marriages is “a fundamentally unjust piece of legislation” John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock, in Allegheny County in western Pennsylvania, married a gay couple from Pittsburgh yesterday in defiance of the law. The couple, John Kandray and Bill Gray, who have been together 11 years, obtained their license from Montgomery County in eastern Pennsylvania.
Montgomery has now granted about 60 licenses since it’s Registrar of Deeds Bruce Hanes, decided denying same-sex couples a marriage license was a violation of the oath he took to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution. Hanes says 12 have been returned to be recorded after the couple married.
Mayor Fetterman told reporters he may not have the power to issue a license, but he would be proud to marry any couple who obtained one in Montgomery County. “Whether that’s civil disobedience, or breaking the law, it’s doing the right thing.” Said Mayor Fetterman who told reporters he wanted to be “on the right side if history.”
The Pennsylvania Health Department is suing to stop Montgomery County from issuing licenses to same-sex couples, but so far the court has not restrained the practice. This week, lawyers for Bruce Hanes asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, arguing Pennsylvania’s DOMA law required him to violate his oath to uphold the state constitution which states: “all men are born equally free and independent and shall have certain indefeasible rights, among which is the right to pursue one’s own happiness.”
Hanes has also argued that the Health Department, which was chosen as the vehicle to sue Montgomery County when Attorney General Kathleen Kane refused to defend the law, has no standing to sue. The Health Department complaint says Hanes’ issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples will cause “administrative and legal chaos” and will likely lead to illegal claims for benefits. The judge has yet to rule on Hane’s motion to dismiss.
Photo is from John Edward Kandray’s Facebook page.
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