WATCH: Final Pa. County Comes Full Circle to Issue Marriage Licenses
After becoming the first county in Pennsylvania to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples last year — in defiance of the still-enforced ban on same-sex marriage — Montgomery County once again began issuing licenses to same-sex couples at 8:30 a.m. today, reports Philadelphia's CBS affiliate.
Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes made national headlines last July, when he began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples who applied for them in the Philadelphia suburban area, defying the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. At the time, Hanes said he believed the state's voter-approved prohibition on performing or recognizing same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution.
That year, Hanes issued marriage licenses to 174 same-sex couples before the state's Republican governor obtained a court order demanding that Hanes abide by the then-existing law. A state judge determined that Hanes, in his official capacity as an elected official responsible for issuing marriage licenses, did not have the authority to interpret the U.S. Constitution and ignore existing law. That judge's order barred Hanes from issuing any additional marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
But almost a year after Hanes made his stand for marriage equality, a federal judge arrived at the same conclusion and struck down Pennsylvania's anti–marriage equality laws in an eloquent ruling issued May 20. Gov. Tom Corbett announced one day later that he would not appeal the decision, clearing the way for same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses immediately, then wed following the mandatory three-day waiting period between licensure and marriage.
A spokesman for Montgomery County told CBS Tuesday that the order barring Hanes from issuing marriage licenses had been lifted in light of statewide marriage equality, which began last week, and that same-sex couples could once again receive marriage licenses in Montgomery County when the office opened for business at 8:30 a.m. today. With that, Montgomery County becomes the final county in Pennsylvania to embrace marriage equality, meaning same-sex couples can now get married in every county of every state of the northeastern U.S.
Watch the CBS affiliate's report below.