US: Federal court rejects attempt to appeal against equal marriage in Pennsylvania

Nick Duffy July 5, 2014
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An appeals court has rejected a county clerk’s attempt to appeal against same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

Same-sex marriage was legalised in Pennsylvania following a ruling by Judge John Jones on May 20.

It was cemented as law when the state’s Governor, Tom Corbett, refused to appeal, alongside the Attorney General.

Despite the law already being in effect, Schuylkill County clerk Theresa Santai-Gaffney had earlier this month sought permission to file an appeal, claiming that she had standing to appeal as the ruling had made the scope of her duties unclear.

As the deadline for any potential appeals has now passed, Santai-Gaffney’s appeal is now the last stand of opponents of marriage equality in the state.

Judge Jones found against her last month, ruling that her “deep personal disagreement” with same-sex marriage did not give her any standing to act on behalf of the state.

Today, his ruling was upheld by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, who agreed with his judgement that Santai-Gaffney was not eligible to appeal.

The clerk has indicated she intends to take her case to the US Supreme Court, where if her appeal is again rejected, marriage equality in Pennsylvania will be cemented for good.

Her appeal is largely futile, as no stay has been granted, meaning couples are still able to get married, and likely will be able to for the foreseeable future.

In his dismissal last month, Judge Jones wrote: “If the highest elected official in the commonwealth chooses to abide by our decision, it defies credulity that we would permit a single citizen to stand in for him to perfect an appeal.

“There is nothing remotely ambiguous about how Santai-Gaffney must perform her duties relative to issuing marriage licenses.

“At bottom, we have before us a contrived legal argument by a private citizen who seeks to accomplish what the chief executive of the commonwealth, in his wisdom, has declined to do.”

Colorado clerk Hillary Hall is currently facing legal action, because she refuses to stop marrying  same-sex couples despite the state’s constitutional ban.

Related topics: appeal, ban, Civil partnerships, clerk, Employment, equal marriage, gay marriage, gay wedding, Law, lesbian marriage, lesbian wedding, marriage, marriage equality, Pennsylvania, same sex marriage, Same-sex wedding, US, wedding

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