Hanes: "No fuss, no muss"

Man serving life term says county won't let him marry

By Ben Finley, July 13, Philadelphia Inquirer

For most of the 40-plus years Kevin Davis has known Norma Scott, he's been locked up, serving a life sentence for a murder he committed in the 1970s in Philadelphia.

Decades in prison have been no obstacle for their love: The couple got engaged in 2013.

The only things that now stand in the way of their getting married are a state prison warden and the register of wills in Fayette County, where Davis is incarcerated, according to two lawsuits filed Monday in federal court.

Davis, 57, claims that Brian Coleman, the superintendent of the State Correctional Institution at Fayette, south of Pittsburgh, bars prisoners from marrying, telling them instead to transfer to another prison that allows it, a process that often takes years if it happens at all.

Coleman did not respond to a call from The Inquirer seeking comment.

Davis also alleges that Donald Redman, the Fayette County register of wills, has refused to accommodate his request for a wedding license by strictly following the common rule of requiring both people to be physically present when applying for a license.

Davis claims that Redman could use video conferencing or other means to allow him to apply for the license. State prison policy states that inmates may use videoconferencing for marriage license applications.


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Thank you for a great night!

Last night we celebrated the second anniversary of marriage equality.  I had a lot of fun and enjoyed the company of many  extraordinary people.  Thank you to everyone who attended, there is still time to contribute to my campaign for reelection.


July 4th Pictures

I hope everyone had a wonderful and exciting July 4th weekend with their families.  I just wanted to share a few pictures from this of me from this weekend.



As you know two weeks ago, the Supreme Court of the United States of America made a historic decision to grant equal rights to same-sex couples.  I was asked by a few news outlets to comment on the decision, and I wanted to share those articles.

Hanes Reflects on Same-Sex Marriage Ruling - WNPV

Gay Marriage Ruling Gratifying for MontCo Official Who Issued 1st Marriage License - NBC

Bucks, Montgomery residents hail U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling - The Intelligencer 

Thank you for your support.

Supreme Court rules states must allow same-sex marriage

Washington (CNN) In a landmark opinion, the Supreme Court ruled Friday that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, establishing a new civil right and handing gay rights advocates a victory that until very recently would have seemed unthinkable.

The 5-4 ruling had Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority with the four liberal justices. Each of the four conservative justices wrote their own dissent.

The far-reaching decision settles one of the major civil rights fights of this era -- one that has rapidly evolved in the minds of the American pubic and its leaders, including President Barack Obama. He struggled publicly with the issue and ultimately embraced same-sex marriage in the months before his 2012 re-election.

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family," Kennedy wrote. "In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were."

In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia blasted the Court's "threat to American democracy."

"The substance of today's decree is not of immense personal importance to me," he wrote. "But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today's judicial Putsch."

The relevant cases were argued earlier this year. Attorney John Bursch, serving as Michigan's Special Assistant Attorney General, defended four states' bans on gay marriage before the Court, arguing that the case was not about how to define marriage, but rather about who gets to decide the question.

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Greater Philadelphia Pride Parade

Hello all!

This past Sunday was an important moment in my life, and I was able to share it with so many wonderful people; I marched in the Greater Philadelphia Pride Parade.  Joining me in celebrating the rights of all LGBTQ people, were Montgomery County Commissioners, Josh Shapiro and Val Arkoosh.

I began issuing same-sex marriage licenses in defiance of the law for one reason, same-sex couples should have the same rights as any other couple.  Marching in the parade gave me hope that one day, a same-sex couple will be able to get married anywhere in this wonderful county.

Click here if you want to see more pictures from the parade!



Settlement reached for Pa. same-sex marriage limbo

Philly.com - Jessica Parks - October 1, 2014

Under a settlement with the state, 27 same-sex couples who wed in the summer of 2013 will be recognized as married, but their legal anniversaries will move to May 20, 2014.

Ballen v. Wolf is one of at least three lawsuits against the state that have been in limbo since May, when a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage.

Before that ruling, nearly 200 gay and lesbian couples received marriage licenses from Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes, who argued that the state's ban was unconstitutional.

Many of those couples obtained new marriage licenses after the federal ruling this spring. Couples who did not, according to the state, were still not married.

The settlement, which Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini approved Tuesday, recognizes only the 27 couples who signed on as plaintiffs. As many as 82 other marriages may still be in dispute.

John Culhane, a law professor at Widener University who is gay, called the settlement a "creative" and quiet way to resolve the issue.

Gov. Corbett, a Republican who opposes same-sex marriage, was criticized from the left for defending the state law and then from the right when he declined to appeal the federal ruling striking it down.

"To have required the couples to go back and get a new marriage license would almost seem petty," Culhane said. "From the state's perspective, this makes sense and takes the case out of the public eye."

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Gay couples wed in 2013 remain in limbo in Montco

Philly.com - Jessica Parks - May 31, 2014

A federal ruling last week legalized same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, and was hailed as an eloquent manifesto on the right to marriage equality. But for more than 100 couples, it didn't go far enough.

Another court battle could be looming, entangling the same county - and the same couples - who helped turn the tide in Pennsylvania.

Gov. Corbett's office announced Wednesday that it won't validate the 174 marriage licenses handed out in Montgomery County last summer - before the federal judge's ruling. Montgomery County, on the other hand, says those marriages are signed, filed, and fully legal.

Joshua Maus, a spokesman for the governor's Office of General Counsel, said getting a new license, dated after the federal ruling, is the only way to ensure that those marriages aren't disputed in the future.

"It doesn't matter what the county says. It doesn't matter what the state says," Maus said. "Without a court's intervention, are these people validly married?"

Five or 10 years from now, for example, attorneys may challenge those licenses to get out of alimony, death benefits, custody, or other benefits afforded to married couples.

"The only way to protect those couples is for Montgomery County to issue new licenses," he said.

Montgomery County has been telling couples that isn't necessary.

"The marriages were recorded," said Montgomery County First Deputy Solicitor Joshua Stein. "We have no intention of changing the dates, or doing anything different with those licenses than we would for the heterosexual couples that got married in that period."

Widener Law professor John G. Culhane said the situation for these couples is so complicated and unusual that it was inevitable that a judge would give the final word. "It's a mess. That's my legal summary. It's a mess," Culhane said.

"If I were the [state] Supreme Court, I would resolve this very quickly," he said. "It really is the humane thing to do for the court to let these couples know where they stand so they can move on with their lives, and do what they need to do."

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Same-Sex Marriage Ban in Pa

NBC Philadelphia - Queen Muse and Associated Press - Wednesday, May 21, 2014


A federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday afternoon.

Judge John Jones III ruled in favor of 23 Pennsylvania residents who challenged the state's 1996 Defense of Marriage Act by filing a suit with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union.

NBC10's Keith Jones speaks to Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane on today's federal court ruling overturning the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

"The issue we resolve today is a divisive one," Jones said. "Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional."

In declaring Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the judge did not, however, issue a stay of his own ruling, meaning it will go into effect immediately. The decision can and likely will be challenged in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

With the addition of Pennsylvania, 44 percent of the nation's population lives in a state that permits gay and lesbian couples to marry. Pennsylvania was the last remaining state in the Northeast to outlaw gay marriage.

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Pa. judge orders county to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses

LGBTQ Nation -  - Thursday, September 12, 2013

Matt Rourke, APMarcus Saitschenko, left, and James Goldstein obtain a marriage license at a Montgomery County office on July 24, 2013.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania judge on Thursday ordered a suburban Philadelphia clerk to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini said Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes did not have the power to decide on his own whether Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban violates the state constitution.

Matt Rourke, AP
Marcus Saitschenko, left, and James Goldstein obtain a marriage license at a Montgomery County office on July 24, 2013.

“Unless and until either the General Assembly repeals or suspends the Marriage Law provisions or a court of competent jurisdiction orders that the law is not to be obeyed or enforced, the Marriage Law in its entirety is to be obeyed and enforced by all commonwealth public officials,” Pellegrini wrote.

It was not immediately clear what the decision would mean to those who have already received a license.

The state Health Department under Republican Gov. Tom Corbett sued Hanes after he began issuing licenses to same-sex couples in July, despite a 1996 state law that defines mar riage as between a man and a woman. The department argued that Hanes’ actions could create chaos.

James Schultz, Corbett’s general counsel, issued a statement saying the key issue was whether local officials can decide which laws to uphold or reject, based on their personal legal opinion.

“We respect the interests and dignity of all the parties involved in this case, but we are a government of laws and it is important that all office holders across the state enforce those laws uniformly,” Schultz said.

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