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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