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Marriage Equality

Judge: County Official Can't Appeal Pa. Marriage Ruling

Judge: County Official Can't Appeal Pa. Marriage Ruling

Theresa-santai-gaffney-x400

She made a 'contrived' argument to intervene in the case after the governor declined to appeal, the judge says.

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A county official in Pennsylvania can't appeal the decision striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Schuylkill County register of wills Theresa Santai-Gaffney, whose office issues marriage licenses, sought to appeal U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III's May 20 ruling invalidating the ban, after Gov. Tom Corbett declined to do so. She also asked Jones to stop same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania until the U.S. Supreme Court decided the issue.

Jones ruled that Santai-Gaffney does not have legal standing to appeal his decision, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "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," Jones wrote. Her action, he said, is "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."

Santai-Gaffney also claimed that Jones's ruling made her duties as an issuer of marriage licenses unclear. "Nothing could be further from the truth," he wrote.

Santai-Gaffney's attorney, James Smith, immediately appealed Jones's Wednesday decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. "We expect the Third Circuit to allow us to intervene," he told the Bloomberg news service.

Several conservative state legislators, backed by right-wing religious groups, are also urging Corbett to appeal the May 20 ruling, the Inquirer reports. However, he has only 30 days from the ruling's issuance to do so, and time is almost up.

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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.