Last Pa. County Gets Green Light on Gay Marriage

A suburban Philadelphia county that had been legally prevented from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples can now do so.

Montgomery County began granting licenses to same-sex couples at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Norristown.

Counties throughout state have been issuing the licenses since a federal judge legalized gay marriage in Pennsylvania last week.

But Montgomery County had been barred from granting any because of a stop order in a pending lawsuit.

Last year, the county issued licenses to 174 same-sex couples before gay marriage was made legal in Pennsylvania. A court ordered the rogue county to stop.

That order wasn't lifted until Tuesday. County spokesman Frank Custer says the ruling came after offices had closed for the day.

Last year, Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes was sued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for his decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in spite of the state's law.

After the federal judge struck down the state's same-sex marriage ban on May 20, Hanes said he was looking forward to having the restrictions that were implemented by the lawsuit lifted.

"I applaud the courage of the couples and families that brought this challenge, and have instructed the County attorneys to file an emergency application with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to remove the restrictions placed on my office by the Court and the Department of Health, and permit my office to join the other sixty-six counties in the Commonwealth in issuing marriage licenses," Hanes said.

"I am hopeful that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will act swiftly to remove this last obstacle to marriage equality in Pennsylvania, and I look forward to once again issuing marriage licenses to all who seek them," he added.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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