NOM BLOG

Category Archives: Pennsylvania

Voters and Executives Must Prepare for More Illegitimate Rulings

The fallout from Judge Shelby’s ‘ruling’ overturning Utah’s Marriage Amendment is only just beginning.

Yesterday, Bruce Parker of The Daily Caller penned an important piece, “Utah’s lesson for the other 33 pro-marriage states.”  In it he wrote:

Gavel

In a 53-page ruling, which could best be described as a work of judicial fiction, District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby began by conceding that marriage law is “the province of the states,” but he proceeded to void Utah’s marriage law in a naked power grab that he admitted was not within his purview to do.

By the end of the ruling, Judge Shelby had overturned Utah’s definition of marriage by judicial fiat and replaced it with the one provided by LGBT activists.

The event was not an isolated incident. Within days, a federal district court judge in Ohio issued a similarly contrived judgment against that state’s constitutional marriage amendment. Moreover, according to the ACLU’s web site, copycat acts of judicial legislating are underway in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, and a dozen other red states, as part of the group’s national “Out for Freedom” campaign against state sovereignty [emphasis added].

What does this brazen usurpation of power and rejection of the democratic process mean for the other 30-plus states with amendments or laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman?

UtahFirst and foremost, state Governors and Attorneys General must reject these illegitimate rulings, and the people of these states must hold their elected officials accountable to do so.  Parker writes, “Indeed, when the two-thirds of Utahns who supported the state’s marriage law awaken from their holiday festivities and realize their constitutional sovereignty has been stolen, the phones at the offices of the governor and attorney general should ring off the hook” [emphasis added].

Parker concludes by quoting NOM president Brian Brown saying, “Our country has seen illegitimate decisions before, going back to Dred Scott. And in the past, when a court has fallen so far afoul of the Constitution itself, executives have had to stand up and say no.”

The people of Utah are up-in-arms and demanding action, to their credit. The sad reality is that, if the ACLU is to be taken at their word, it looks like the voters in 30 other states should start preparing their own plans to fight back in the near future as well.

"Where's NOM?" We're Right Here Where We've Always Been

Serial, frivolous case-filer and NOM obsessive Fred Karger had a question for me yesterday on Twitter:

So I replied:

The story to which Karger is referring is indeed a testament to how religious liberty works - and Fred's being miffed about it is an ominous indication of what would happen to religious congregations such as this one, which have the right to hire and fire their own clergy personnel, if Karger and other same-sex 'marriage' activists had their way. No doubt he would rather see the government step in and deny this congregation its first amendment rights with respect to religion, and force them to keep employing a pastor who is at odds with the congregation's beliefs. But that kind of anti-religious tyranny, which is a part of the ideal same-sex marriage regime, is precisely what we here at NOM are working against - so this story (or rather, the backlash to it) serves as a useful cautionary tale. Thanks for the news tip, Fred!

Judge Orders Pennsylvania Clerks to Obey State Marriage Law

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.

Gavel in Motion

Reuters:

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.

 

The National Organization for Marriage Applauds Pennsylvania Ruling Upholding the State's Definition of Marriage and Restoring the Rule of Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 12, 2013
Contact: Elizabeth Ray or Matille Thebolt (703-683-5004)


"This is a victory for marriage. We are pleased that Judge Pellegrini reiterated that Pennsylvania law expressly defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman." — Brian Brown, NOM President —

National Organization for Marriage

Washington, DC — The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) applauded the common sense ruling of Judge Pellegrini today when he ruled that county officials do not have the right to ignore Pennsylvania law and its definition of marriage. NOM has maintained from the beginning that the actions of Montgomery County Register Wills D. Bruce Hanes have been nothing less than lawlessness. In 1996, the Pennsylvania Legislature duly enacted a state definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman that no single state or county official can contravene.

"This is a victory for marriage. We are pleased that Judge Pellegrini reiterated that Pennsylvania law expressly defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman," said Brian Brown, NOM President. "The legislature clearly defined marriage in 1996 for Pennsylvania. Now Pennsylvanians should be given the right to vote and to enact a state constitutional amendment so that there will be no further confusion on this issue."

This case could have national implications as similar questions about the roles and responsibilities of local officials have arisen in New Mexico and in other states. Brown also praised Governor Corbett's decisive action to have his administration intervene and stop the lawlessness in Montgomery County.

"The people of Pennsylvania should be grateful to Governor Corbett for his leadership on this issue," continued Brown. "As the chief executive of the state, he properly used his office to uphold the law and stop the potential spread of these rogue actions. Now we ask that he use the influence of his office to have the 'marriage' licenses that were issued declared invalid."

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To schedule an interview with Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, please contact Elizabeth Ray (x130), [email protected], or Matille Thebolt (x143), [email protected], at 703-683-5004.

Paid for by The National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, president. 2029 K Street NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20006, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. New § 68A.405(1)(f) & (h).

Montgomery County SSM Hearing Set for Wednesday

Pennsylvania law makes it very clear: marriage is between a man and woman. All faux-'marriage' licenses that were issued to same-sex couples by a rogue county clerk who decided he had the authority to disregard the law should be considered invalid.

Gov. CorbettLawyers are set to meet in a Harrisburg Court for the argument to decide whether an elected Montgomery County clerk has the ability to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Since July, Clerk Bruce Hanes has issued 164 same-sex marriage licenses, but Pennsylvania doesn’t permit civil unions or gay marriage.

Governor Corbett’s administration is leading up this lawsuit, contending that all of the licenses issued to same-sex couples in Pennsylvania are invalid because the law outlines marriage as between one man, and one woman.

“The key question here is, does a local official have the ability to pick and choose which laws they enforce and which laws they disregard,” Nils Frederkisen, General Counsel for the Corbett administration, said.

Governor Corbett spoke to CBS 21’s Sherry Christian last month, and said if the Attorney General won’t defend the laws of Pennsylvania, his administration will. “You can’t pick or choose which laws you want to defend, which laws you don’t want to defend. So at this point, since she has chosen not to defend it, we will defend it, and as I said, the courts will make the determination.” -Local21News

Despite Personal Views, Mayor Remains Committed to Democratic Process

Mayor Larry Keller

We've heard lots of news lately about elected officials sidestepping or ignoring the law completely in order to push same-sex marriage in their states. But to Mayor Larry Kelly, Pennsylvania's marriage law is no different from any other state law. And despite his personal views, he knows his constituents trust him to enforce it.

Philly.com:

...Mayor Larry Keller, citing his duty as an elected official to uphold the law, declined to officiate a same-sex wedding for a couple who had obtained a marriage license in Montgomery County, where such licenses have been issued in defiance of state law since earlier this month.

In a letter to council members last week, Keller said that he did not want to "put New Hope Borough, and myself, at legal risk for breach of my official duties as Mayor" by overseeing the wedding. State law defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.

"Legal Chaos" Ensues After Rogue Pennsylvania County Ignores Law, Issues Marriage Licenses

The inevitable outcome after state officials take it upon themselves to break their own laws:

Montgomery County PA“There is no limit to the administrative and legal chaos that is likely to flow from the clerk’s unlawful practice of issuing marriage licenses to those who are not permitted under Pennsylvania law to marry,” the [Pennsylvania Department of Health's legal] brief reads. “One consequence of the clerk’s illegal conduct in issuing invalid marriage licenses is likely to be this: Same-sex couples who falsely believe (or merely contend erroneously) that they are married will apply for claim benefits or other treatment (both public and private) that is reserved for those who are lawfully married under Pennsylvania law.”

The state has repeatedly contended that Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphan’s Court D. Bruce Hanes violates the state marriage law every time he issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

“By his own acknowledgement, the clerk is repeatedly, continuously and notoriously acting in clear derogation of the marriage law inasmuch as he is issuing marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender,” the brief states. “The clerk’s actions are in direct defiance of the express policy of the commonwealth, that ‘marriage is between one man and one woman.’” -Daily Local News

Pennsylvania Attorney General Ignores Rule of Law

Americans may disagree on a whole host of issues, including marriage, but a commitment to the democratic process is critical. Allowing corruption into the system, even if it happens to favor your political view at the time, is detrimental to Americans, and to our nation, long-term:

Kathleen KaneAttorney General Kathleen Kane’s decision to forgo defending Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act has undermined the rule of law in Pennsylvania.

There are plenty of political issues across Pennsylvania and our country about which citizens vigorously disagree: the proper size and scope of the state budget; voter ID regulations; the privatization of retail liquor sales; the definition of marriage. These are just a few of the contentious issues that divide us.

What unites us, however, as Pennsylvanians and as Americans is a commitment to the process by which these political disputes are resolved. Regardless of what side of a controversy we’re on, there is solace in the rule of law — the concept that we are all playing by the same rules, and that those rules will not be arbitrarily changed to fit personal or political agendas.

We submit ourselves to this rule of law, and we expect our elected officials to submit themselves to it. This is a fundamental principle of the American republic. Nothing undermines political comity and stability more than when the rule of law is seen as contingent on the whims of politicians.

And yet this state of instability is exactly where we find ourselves in Pennsylvania due to Kane’s abandonment of our commonwealth’s overwhelmingly approved Defense of Marriage Act. Her actions beg the question: Which Pennsylvania laws are actually laws, and which are just suggestions? Only Kathleen Kane knows. -The Mercury

Read PFI Chief Counsel Randall Wenger's full op-ed here.

PA Lawmaker Calls for Impeachment

Marriage laws are just like any other state laws. Why do some elected officials think they can get away with ignoring and/or breaking them entirely? Thanks to Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe for speaking out about the corruption!

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has followed the lead of Barack Obama and Jerry Brown by refusing to uphold the state's law protecting marriage between one man and one woman. At least one legislator thinks it is time she paid for violating her oath of office.

Marriage LicenseState Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, has said Kane's actions merit impeachment, because they spread “lawlessness.”

“I think breaking the law is worthy of impeachment,” Metcalfe told local media. “Her duty is to defend the law.

Shortly after her announcement, Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes began issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals, despite the fact that state law forbids such unions. As of Friday afternoon, Hanes had issued 62 marriage licenses to homosexual couples, and 13 of their recipients have completed wedding ceremonies.

“By her example, this Montgomery County official felt emboldened to violate the law also,” Metcalfe said.

He believes Hanes should be impeached, as well. By the laws of the state, Hanes is “charged with carrying out the law of Pennsylvania and this individual breaks the law.”

“Ultimately, I think there might be an impeachment procedure,” he said. “The legislature could remove this individual from office for violating the law.” -LifeSiteNews

It's Working — Keep It Up!

National Organization for Marriage

Dear Marriage Supporter,

It's time to thank Governor Corbett for standing for marriage and the rule of law. As much as we "demand" things of our elected officials, we also need to thank them and let them know that they have our support.

Last week, when I wrote to you urging you to contact Governor Corbett about the lawlessness in Montgomery County, I was certain you'd act quickly and decisively—and you did!

Hundreds of you flooded the Governor's office with emails demanding that the rule of law be preserved in Pennsylvania and that the age-old institution of marriage be defended against a reckless and illegitimate attack. Well, I write today to ask you to thank Governor Corbett and his staff for responding.

Yesterday, the Governor's administration took two decisive steps toward upholding marriage law in the Keystone State. The Department of Health filed a case against the lawlessness in Montgomery County. And the Office of General Counsel delivered a strong letter to Attorney General Kane, indicting her failure to defend marriage as contributing to the recent chaos in the Philadelphia suburbs.

So let's write the Governor together today thanking his administration for standing up on behalf of marriage and of the rule of law in Pennsylvania! He needs to know he has our support to continue doing the right thing!

But we also need to remain vigilant and active. The battle is not over.

We need the Governor to firmly and decisively announce his administration's intent to defend Pennsylvania's marriage laws against the recent lawsuit filed by the ACLU, and to ensure that these recent shenanigans in Montgomery County do not impact the legal proceedings in any way.

With the media bias surrounding the issue of marriage, we need the Governor to know that the vast majority of Pennsylvania voters believe in the true definition of marriage. Marriage brings the two halves of humanity together in a special way, and affirms the right of every child to the love of both a mother and a father.

Tell Governor Corbett that you're one of the millions of Pennsylvanians who firmly believe in this common-sense truth about marriage, and that you will continue to stand by those in government who affirm and uphold this most basic institution in our society.

Marriage Defenders Protest Illegal Issuing of Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples in Pennsylvania

Pennyslvania marriage activists took a stand in Montgomery County on Friday, rallying against the open defiance of state laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman:

Photo credit: Gene Walsh

Photo credit: Gene Walsh

Pumping signs in the air that read, “stop the war on children” and “marriage = man & woman,” the Pro-Life Coalition of PA addressed a throng of reporters urging Register of Wills/Clerk of the Orphan’s Court D. Bruce Hanes to stop writing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

By end of day Friday, 26 such licenses had been issued by the county.

“It’s not about love. It’s about children,” said Michael McMonagle, president of the Pro-Life Coalition. “There’s a thing called just discrimination. For example, should blind people be allowed to vote? Of course they should, because not being able to see has nothing to do with having the right to vote. Should blind people get a driver’s license? Of course not, because being able to see is essential to being able to drive.

“Heterosexuality is essential to the meaning of marriage. Civil government has an interest in producing future children. It’s utter arrogance to think that we can redefine the institution that has been the bedrock of all society throughout history.”

Homosexual marriages are “inherently unequal because (they) cannot produce children,” he said. -Mainline Media News

PA Lawmakers Condemn Illegal Marriage Licensing by Montgomery County

PA Capitol Complex Rotunda DomeThe Office of General Counsel for Governor Corbett's administration in Pennsylvania has responded in a statement to the recent lawlessness in Montgomery County.

From the Beaver County Times:

"Individual elected officials cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce," Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, press secretary for Corbett's Office of General Counsel, said in a statement. "All officials are constitutionally required to administer and enforce the laws that are enacted by the Legislature..."

If you are a resident of Pennsylvania, make sure to let the Governor know that these illegal actions must be dealt with swiftly and firmly.

Tell Governor Corbett to Stop this Lawlessness!

National Organization for Marriage

Dear Marriage Supporter,

I am outraged, and you should be too, at the news coming from Montgomery County yesterday.

In open defiance to Pennsylvania's laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and in violation of their sworn duty as public office holders, officials in Montgomery County yesterday began issuing illegal marriage licenses to same-sex couples!

I need you to join me in telling Governor Corbett right now that we as Pennsylvanians will not stand for this lawless and reckless behavior. Click here to send an urgent message to the Governor demanding that he put a stop to it right away!

The Montgomery County Register of Wills, D. Bruce Hanes, who issues marriage licenses for the county, has decided that he — a county bureaucrat — has the authority to unilaterally rewrite Pennsylvania marriage law. Who does he think he is? The job of enacting laws belong to the legislature and the governor, not county bureaucrats. It's absolute lawlessness in Montgomery County, and it must stop — today!

Governor Corbett is sworn to execute Pennsylvania's duly enacted laws, and these include the laws on marriage which explicitly define marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman. It is imperative that the Governor act today to exercise the full authority and leverage of his office and put a stop to the utter anarchy unfolding in Montgomery County.

This goes way beyond marriage — it undermines the rule of law. Since when do county bureaucrats get away with making their own laws and deciding for themselves who is covered and who is not by the laws they invent? This is sheer legal madness, yet gay marriage activists think they can get away with this corruption of the legal system.

Please click here to tell Governor Corbett that he must uphold the duly enacted law of our land and defend marriage in Pennsylvania against this outrageous and illegal attack!

Let him know that you will be watching and expect him to do whatever is necessary to restore our marriage laws from this illegal, unconstitutional attack which undermines the rule of law and the integrity of government.

As I said in a press release yesterday, this illegal action by Montgomery County officials is an insult to voters, legislators and the rule of law, and once we've ensured that this action has been dealt with appropriately, we'll be asking the state legislature to make sure it cannot happen again by passing a marriage amendment in the Keystone State.

Please, after you have taken action today, use the buttons below to forward this email and share it on Facebook and Twitter so that all pro-marriage Pennsylvanians can speak up about this outrage in Montgomery County!

National Organization for Marriage Condemns Illegal Marriages in Pennsylvania, Calls for State Legislature to Put a Marriage Amendment on the Ballot

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 24, 2013
Contact: Elizabeth Ray or Jen Campbell (703-683-5004)


"These county officials are brazenly flaunting the law; substituting their personal views for those of the people...Their actions go beyond marriage and implicates the integrity of the rule of law." — Brian Brown, NOM president —

National Organization for Marriage

Washington, D.C. — The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) condemned the actions of officials in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in allowing homosexual couples to obtain marriage licenses in violation of state law that defines marriage solely as the union of one man and one woman, and demanded that state courts put an end to it. The group called on the Legislature to immediately put a marriage amendment on the 2014 ballot to preserve traditional marriage.

"This illegal action by Montgomery County officials is an insult to voters, legislators and the rule of law," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "We demand that state judges put an immediate end to this lawlessness. In addition, we call on the Pennsylvania Legislature to act immediately to pass a proposed marriage amendment preserving marriage as it has always existed throughout the state's history as one man and one woman."

As is the case in every state in the union, Pennsylvania law defines marriage on a statewide basis. County officials have no role in defining marriage and are powerless to change state law. Despite this, Montgomery County officials have invited same-sex couples to engage in illegal marriages in opposition to state law.

"These county officials are brazenly flaunting the law; substituting their personal views for those of the people as expressed through their elected representatives in state government," Brown said. "Their actions go beyond marriage and implicates the integrity of the rule of law. This cannot be allowed to stand. We will explore every opportunity to hold these officials responsible for intentionally violating the law, including paths leading to their removal from office. In the meantime, we call on the state Legislature to put an amendment on the ballot preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Such a proposed constitutional amendment will give voters the ability to decide this issue for themselves, rather than allow state officials to impose their own views with no say so from the people."

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To schedule an interview with Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, please contact Elizabeth Ray (x130), [email protected], or Jen Campbell (x145), [email protected], at 703-683-5004.

Paid for by The National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, president. 2029 K Street NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20006, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. New § 68A.405(1)(f) & (h).

AUDIO: PFI's Michael Geer on State of Marriage in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Family Institute President Michael Geer appeared on WHYY Public Radio earlier this week to discuss PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane's decision not to uphold state marriage law because she personally doesn't support it. Listen to the full audio below: