32 same-sex couples with marriage licenses from Montco seek to join in case

    Thirty-two same-sex couples await a ruling on whether they can join a court case over the legality of their marriage licenses.

    A Commonwealth Court judge on Wednesday heard arguments about jurisdiction and legal standing, and must also decide on the couples’ role.

    Montgomery County resident Sasha Ballen, who was issued a license with her partner, says they belong in the case. She says their lives would be affected if the marriage licenses being issued to same-sex couples were halted and rendered invalid.

    “We’re here because this is important to us. It’s important in our real life, it affects us, it affects the other couples,” Ballen said. “So even if we didn’t get a chance to sort of make the arguments … we wanted the court at least to see that we’re here, this is important.”

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

    Winpenny is asking to join the case’s defense for the same reason as Ballen because the outcome specifically affects him and his partner.

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

    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, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

    County lawyers, defending Register of Wills Bruce Hanes, says he cannot enforce that law and still uphold the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions.

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