Montgomery County trailblazer for same-sex marriage can’t issue licenses

     Ellen Toplin and Charlene Kurland hold hands as they obtain a marriage license at a Montgomery County office in July 2013. Even though a judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriages Tuesday, Montgomery County is still operating under an injunction filed when its register of wills, Bruce Hanes began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last summer. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

    Ellen Toplin and Charlene Kurland hold hands as they obtain a marriage license at a Montgomery County office in July 2013. Even though a judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriages Tuesday, Montgomery County is still operating under an injunction filed when its register of wills, Bruce Hanes began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last summer. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

    After a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on same sex marriages Tuesday,  every county in the state is now authorized to issue marriage licenses … except one.

    Montgomery County remains under an injunction filed when Register of Wills Bruce Hanes began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last summer.

    Defying the state law, which he said was unconstitutional, Hanes issued nearly 200 marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples before a state judge ordered him to stop. He was sued by the state Department of Health, which registers vital statistics.

    In the wake of Tuesday’s ruling, county officials asked the state Supreme Court to lift the stay, said county Commissioner Leslie Richards. Instead, the court gave the Department of Health a week to respond.

    “It’s absolutely ironic,” she said. “I mean, here, our register of wills was at the forefront of this discussion. And now every single county in the commonwealth can issue same-sex marriage licenses except Montgomery County. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

    Richards called ending the ban on same-sex marriage a big day for the Commonwealth and for civil rights.

    The Department of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its plans.

    Gov. Tom Corbett was expected to release a statement Wednesday on whether he plans to appeal the federal court’s decision to strike down the ban.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.