In Pennsylvania, as in many states throughout the country, there is much debate about the legalization of same sex marriage in the wake of U.S. v. Windsor. Our Allegheny County family lawyers have been updating you about the recent decisions in our own state, but today we are looking nationally.
As occurred in Montgomery County, PA, where the county Clerk of Courts decided to begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples (which conflicts with the law in Pennsylvania defining marriage as between a man and a woman), in New Mexico, the clerks of several counties have begun to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. In Pennsylvania, the Clerk of Courts was ordered by the Court to stop isssuing the licenses.
Unlike in Pennsylvania, there is no law in New Mexico prohibiting same-sex marriage; however it is also not allowed state-wide. This creates an interesting legal gray area, of which advocates for same-sex marriage are taking advantage. One of the counties which has begun issuing marriage licenses, the largest county in the state, began issuing the licenses after a district court Judge in that county ruled that a same-sex marriage ban violates the equal protection clause of the constitution. As of yet, because of the lack of law on the books, there has been no successful effort to stop the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in New Mexico.
Hawaii currently allows civil unions for same sex couples, but retains a law on its books restricting marriage to a man and a woman. This may soon change. In early September, the governor of Hawaii announced that he was recalling the legislature to vote on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. This is important, because the bill restricting same sex marriage in Hawaii only allows the legislature to decide about the legality of same-sex marriage in the state. The decision of the governor to recall the legislature into session has led some following the process to believe that the governor has the votes to pass the bill. The legislature reconvenes at the end of October.
We are keeping an eye on the process of same-sex marriage legislation and court decisions processing throughout the country, and their possible effects on same-sex marriage here in western PA. If you are considering marrying someone of either gender, contact our team of Pittsburgh LGBT rights attorneys today to discuss your case.