Same-Sex Marriage
10:00 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Among the Many Q's in PA Same-Sex Marriage Case, Who Has Legal Standing?

Bolton Winpenny received a marriage license in Montgomery County and is trying to intervene in the case.
Bolton Winpenny received a marriage license in Montgomery County and is trying to intervene in the case.
Credit Mary Wilson / 90.5 WESA

One of the many issues a state judge must wrestle with in a case of Montgomery County-issued same-sex marriage licenses is: who has legal standing?

Thirty-two same-sex couples say they do, and should therefore be able to join a lawsuit launched by the Corbett administration aiming to enforce Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban.

Bolton Winpenny, a computer programmer, says he and his partner married in Harrisburg shortly after receiving their marriage license in Montgomery County in July.

The state is seeking to halt the issuance of licenses, and Winpenny is asking to join the case’s defense because the outcome affects him and his partner.

"This judge himself kept suggesting that we start our own action rather than intervening on this case," he said. "The problem with that is we are interested in this case. We want to make sure our license stays valid."

Subtle point alert: state lawyers contend that the licenses never have been valid, because they were issued by a county court official turning a blind eye to Pennsylvania law.
    
Therefore, they say, the case’s outcome won’t affect same-sex couples.
    
State law defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
    
Montgomery County lawyers argue their Register of Wills, Bruce Hanes, can’t enforce such a law while also upholding the U.S. and state constitutions.