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Pennsylvania judge promises quick ruling in marriage equality case

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Pennsylvania state sealAfter yesterday’s oral arguments in a case challenging whether a Pennsylvania county official acted improperly when he began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the state’s ban on marriage equality, the judge hearing the case has promised to issue a speedy decision.  From the AP:

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini said a central issue is “how power is allocated in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

“What’s before us today is generally, ‘Who decides?’” Pellegrini told the full courtroom in Harrisburg at the start of oral arguments.

Pellegrini said he was not weighing the constitutionality of the same-sex marriage ban. But questions about its constitutionality arose repeatedly, and Pellegrini said he was concerned about the potential effect of his ruling on various levels of government.

There are several procedural issues in the case that Pellegrini must consider before issuing a final ruling.  First, he must determine whether Pennsylvania’s Health Department has legal standing to seek a court order compelling the county official–D. Bruce Hanes–to stop issuing marriage licenses.  In addition, the judge must decide whether Hanes is a ‘judicial officer.’  If he is, the state’s Supreme Court may be the only court with jurisdiction over the matter.

By the end of business on Tuesday of this week, Hanes had issued 164 licenses to same-sex couples.  We’ll have full coverage of the ruling on EqualityOnTrial when it’s handed down.

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