County clerks have no authority to make up their own laws, or decide which they will/will not abide by. A Pennsylvania judge confirmed this yesterday by ordering Montgomery County clerks to desist from illegally issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples (174 had been issued in total).
As our president Brian Brown noted yesterday, Governor Corbett took great leadership on this issue to uphold the law in Montgomery County and stop the potential spread of rogue actions. The question now is whether the governor will be able to have these ‘licenses’ declared invalid and also use his office to push for a vote of the people. Please urge Gov. Corbett to take this crucial step to protect against confusion and lawsuits in the future that may jeopardize marriage in Pennsylvania.
The state's Health Department sued Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes in August after he began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, following the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling that the federal government must recognize same-sex unions in states where they are legal.
"A clerk of courts has not been given the discretion to decide that a law ... he or she is charged to enforce is a good idea or bad one, constitutional or not," Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini wrote in an opinion issued on Thursday. "Only courts have the power to make that decision."
"The key question in this case has been whether any local official, anywhere in Pennsylvania, has the ability to decide which laws to uphold and which laws to reject based on their own personal legal opinion," [Pennsylvania General Counsel James] Schultz said.
Regardless of personal beliefs, ALL elected officials are trusted to respect the rule of law. If the state they represent protects marriage as the union of husband and wife, acknowledging and enforcing that law is their job.