‘Pennsylvania Defends Marriage Ban in Court, Says Gay Couples, Like ’12-Year-Olds’, Can’t Marry

Pennsyvania Governor Tom Corbett's administration filed a brief Wednesday in defense of the state's ban on same-sex marriage seeking to halt the marriage licenses that have been handed out for a month in Montogmery County, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

CorbettIn a brief Wednesday, state attorneys said those marriage licenses were never valid, and compared gay and lesbian couples to "12-year-olds" who are also barred from marrying under state law. The state Department of Health and Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes will appear in Commonwealth Court next Wednesday to argue the case…

…"Had the clerk issued marriage licenses to 12-year-olds in violation of state law, would anyone seriously contend that each 12-year-old . . . is entitled to a hearing on the validity of his 'license'?" the state wrote.

154 marriage licenses have been handed out to gay and lesbian couples since late July, the paper adds:

Thirty-two of the couples have petitioned to intervene in the case, arguing that a ruling against Hanes could also invalidate their marriages…

…If the couples wish to defend their "purported marriage licenses," the state wrote, they should file their own lawsuit or wait for the outcome of a federal challenge to Pennsylvania's marriage law.


  1. JMC says

    I think this may be like the least offensive thing we’ve been compared to in a legal briefing by a republican ever lol what a stupid comparison, this has me feeling good about marriage equality in my state!

  2. RWG says

    To all those people in PA who stayed home in 2010 and didn’t vote…this is what happens. You have no one to blame but yourselves. For all those who did vote and lost, my sympathies.

  3. Wavin' Dave says

    Hmmm. Seems we’re moving up in the insulting comparisons department: we’ve been called alcoholics, junkies, pedophiles and bestialists. Now we’re pre-adolescents. I frankly don’t mind, I just wish the acne and orthodontics didn’t come with the name-calling!

  4. JJ says

    This is obviously part of their voting rights strategy. If they get the court to agree that they can stop people from marrying because children can’t marry, then they can stop people from voting because children can’t vote.

  5. Dr. C says

    Just received our marriage license in Montgomery County- THESE PEOPLE ARE AMAZING! We were treated with incredible respect, and even strangers in the courthouse congratulated us- PROUD to be a part of this!!!!!

  6. Bill says

    Does this mean that, like 12 year olds, if we just wait a few years we WILL be able to marry–even in Pennsylvania?! My guess is, whether that’s what they meant or not, it will prove to be the case.

  7. Brian1 says

    It’s actually a pretty standard argument, and he’s clearly not comparing gays to twelve year olds. All he is saying is that montgomery county is marrying two people that under pennsylvania law can’t be married. He used twelve year olds as an example, or he could have said refrigerators. His point is just that montgomery county can’t issue marriage licenses to whomever/whatever it wants; it needs to comply with the law.

  8. says

    Nonetheless, it’s an offensive example since 12 year-olds are prohibited from marrying for good reason, whereas there is no rational argument for not allowing (adult) gay couples to marry, which is why clerks have, with full knowledge of the legal implications, been issuing marriage licenses. If his only argument is that it’s against the law, he could have simply used that as an explanation without drawing the condescending comparison to children.

  9. Brian1 says

    The specific argument he’s making when he invokes the twelve year olds is when he’s arguing against allowing couples previously married in montgomery county standing in this case. He doesn’t need an example I guess but lawyers use them all the time to prove a point. And there really isn’t another example he could have used. Any straight adults can marry so that wouldn’t work. Gay couples wouldn’t make sense since that’s the exact group he’s arguing against. That really only leaves children. Under no conceivable interpretation can one read this as saying the governor is equating gays with twelve year olds except in the very narrow sense that neither are allowed to marry under Pennsylvania law.

  10. Sean says

    Actually in Pennsylvania, anyone under the age of 16 can get married with parental consent and the approval of a judge of the Orphans Court. These idiots do not even know what the law is in their own state. Go back to law school morons.

  11. Sean says

    Actually in Pennsylvania, anyone under the age of 16 can get married with parental consent and the approval of a judge of the Orphans Court. These idiots do not even know what the law is in their own state. Go back to law school morons.

  12. says

    Using 12-year-olds as an example, because that’s all there is, may be valid as a narrow legal argument but not as a moral one, so–whatever his lawyerly intentions–inadvertently he’s pointing out the absurdity of not allowing all PA adults the freedom to marry, particularly since it is now isolated in the northeast in its opposition to equality (whereas all other states agree about 12-year-olds). Gay couples have a reason to be fighting to make those licenses valid; 12 year-olds would not, even if they were issued them.

  13. Tobias says

    I think what he’s saying is that as a grown man and potential lawmaker, he’s complely unable to tell the difference between two consenting adults marrying, and a grownup marrying a child.

    He needs a law to exist in order to tell the difference. So we need to be scared of him. Lock up your twelve year olds, folks. Tom Corbett doesn’t understand why it’s wrong to marry a child.

  14. Brian1 says

    Of course I agree with all that, Ernie. Not being allowed to marry in Pennsylvania is definitely something to get worked up about; the reference to 12 year olds is not.

  15. anon says

    Unfortunately, in PA, legally married 12 year olds would be immediately charged with statutory rape and child endangerment.

    What the Gov. in PA is really arguing is that the clerks in Mo county have made a mistake under the law, sort of like when a trial court decision is appealed.

  16. Seth says

    According to Pennsylvania law, one can marry at 12 under the following conditions:

    Applicants under 16 years of age must have both the written approval of a judge of the Orphans’ Court Division of the Common Pleas AND a parent or legal guardian given written consent.

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