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Marriage Equality

Meet Kim Davis's Pennsylvania Counterpart

Meet Kim Davis's Pennsylvania Counterpart

Mayor Sharon Thomas

Sharon Thomas says that if she's elected Montgomery County register of wills, she won't issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — but she will let employees do so.

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Kim Davis has a kindred antigay spirit in Pennsylvania.

Pottstown Mayor Sharon Thomas, who is running for Montgomery County register of wills -- the official tasked with issuing marriage licenses -- says that if elected, she won't personally issue any licenses to same-sex couples.

"I am opposed to gay marriages on religious grounds, and my conscience will not allow me to sign off on marriage certificates for gay couples," Thomas (pictured above) told The Intelligencer, an area newspaper. "People should not have to violate their conscience to run or to serve."

Thomas, a Republican and ordained minister who is running against incumbent Democrat D. Bruce Hanes, said she would instead seek court permission to have a subordinate serve same-sex couples. "I am not an obstructionist and will not force my values on others," she said.

That actually makes her stance a bit more accommodating than Davis's initial one. As the clerk of Rowan County, Ky., Davis shut down all marriage license operations shortly after the Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling. She served five days in jail for defying a court order to issue licenses to all eligible couples. While she was incarcerated, her deputies resumed granting licenses, with one designated to serve same-sex couples, and he has continued to do so since Davis returned to work.

In contrast to Thomas, Hanes is a longtime marriage equality supporter who in July 2013 issued the first marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Pennsylvania -- 10 months before a federal judge struck down the state's ban on such unions. The state sued to force him to cease issuing the licenses, however.

Democrats in Montgomery County, a suburban area near Philadelphia, were quick to point up this contrast. "We cannot have the same courthouse where Pennsylvania's first same-sex marriage licenses were issued by D. Bruce Hanes become a place where the register of wills would refuse to honor the love two people share by not signing their marriage licenses," said County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, in a prepared statement.

"We cherish people's personal beliefs and religious freedoms, but you have to follow the law," Montgomery County Democratic Committee Chairman Marcel Groen said in the same statement. "Does that mean, if [Thomas] opposed interracial or interreligious marriages, that she would also refuse to sign those types of marriage licenses?"

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.