PA Clerks ‘ Brazenly Flaunt the Law’


Officials in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania have begun issuing marriage licenses to gay couples even though such marriages are not legal in that state. In fact, they’ve already had their first gay wedding, though it will not be recognized unless a lawsuit against the state succeeds.

A Montgomery County minister this morning performed the first same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania and filed the license with the court, one day after the county’s Register of Wills announced he would issue licenses to any same-sex couples who requested one.

Craig Andrussier, a non-denominational minister from Landsdale, said the two women had contacted him early this morning after they applied for a license at the courthouse.

Andrussier said he met with the Limerick couple and performed a quick ceremony, signed the license then returned to the courthouse to file it with the county.

And Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage is having a conniption:

“This illegal action by Montgomery County officials is an insult to voters, legislators and the rule of law,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “We demand that state judges put an immediate end to this lawlessness. In addition, we call on the Pennsylvania Legislature to act immediately to pass a proposed marriage amendment preserving marriage as it has always existed throughout the state’s history as one man and one woman.”…

“These county officials are brazenly flaunting the law; substituting their personal views for those of the people as expressed through their elected representatives in state government,” Brown said. “Their actions go beyond marriage and implicates the integrity of the rule of law. This cannot be allowed to stand. We will explore every opportunity to hold these officials responsible for intentionally violating the law, including paths leading to their removal from office.

Hey, you remember when those county clerks in New York refused to issue marriage licenses go gay couples even though the state legislature had legalized them and Brian Brown freaked out about the “illegal action” being an “insult to voters, legislators and the rule of law”? Yeah, I don’t either. Funny, that.

Comments

  1. jamessweet says

    I suppose that in fairness, on our side we said those clerks in NYS were flaunting the rule of law and all that, and admire these folks in PA for their “civil disobedience.” There’s a certain point when you can’t categorize actions based on these ancillary details, but have to actually look at what they do. In that sense, Brown isn’t necessarily being a hypocrite; he’s just being a bigoted asshole.

  2. matty1 says

    It is arguably a waste of county resources but what is the actual law breaking. Does the law in PA specify that no official can register a same sex marriage or that the state government will not recognise that registration?

    Also going beyond the rules is not the same as refusing to follow them. The New York Clerks are like someone who asks for a driving licence without filling in the application form, the PA clerks are like someone who hands in the form with a letter saying they would make an awesome driver.

  3. dickspringer says

    Like many others of his ilk, Brian Brown is educationally challenged. The word he wants is ‘flout,’ not ‘flaunt.’

  4. marcus says

    And in other news read the interview with Neil Patrick Harris and his fiance and family in the ‘US Weekly” newspaper insert (which probably get stuffed in almost every goddamned newspaper in the country) and realize that love and equality are winning.

  5. David C Brayton says

    To be fair, when the Hon. Gavin Newsome did the same ten years ago (started issuing marriage license to same sex couples) the judiciary was rather upset by his actions. There are ways of challenging the constitutionality of laws other than flouting the law.

  6. magistramarla says

    Marcus@ #6
    I was wondering why I didn’t get a US Weekly this weekend. Now it makes perfect sense.
    I live in Texas, so we, the population, were probably being “protected” from reading this.
    I was also trying to find Current TV on my cable lineup, since I’m thinking that Al Jazeera news might make an interesting alternative to the drivel that CNN has taken to serving up lately.
    I found it listed as 234 on my channel lineup, but when I try it on the TV, I can get 232 and 235, and 233 and 234 are simply not there. I suppose that the cable company considers it just too liberal for Texas viewers.

  7. flatlander100 says

    The Montgomery Co. officials are as wrong, and for the same reasons, as the NY county officials who refused to issue licenses after the legislature made them legal.

  8. beergoggles says

    Can the county clerks issuing licenses be taken to court for it? I keep trying to find who has been harmed by the clerks issuing licenses and I can’t think of anyone. Isn’t the ability to prove harm necessary to take them to court?

  9. Abby Normal says

    Re: Matty @2

    The statute banning SSM in PA says:

    It is hereby declared to be the strong and longstanding public policy of this Commonwealth that marriage shall be between one man and one woman. A marriage between persons of the same sex which was entered into in another state or foreign jurisdiction, even if valid where entered into, shall be void in this Commonwealth.

    A few weeks ago the ACLU filed a suit challenging the ban. The Attorney General has refused to defend the ban. So the Montgomery County officals took a look at the law and issued the following statement:

    For the first time since I took office in January 2008, a same sex couple contacted me last week indicating their intention of applying for a marriage license in Montgomery County. In the ensuing days, my solicitor, Michael Clarke, and I, in conjunction with county solicitor Ray McGarry, studied every aspect of the law, including recent Supreme Court decisions and statements by the Pennsylvania Attorney General.

    Based upon the advice of Mr. Clarke, my own analysis of the law and mindful of the Attorney General’s belief that Pennsylvania’s marriage laws are unconstitutional, I decided to come down on the right side of history and the law, and was prepared to issue a license to the couple. However, the women for reasons of their own decided this morning not to seek the marriage license at this time.

    When I took the oath of office 19 months ago, I swore to uphold the U.S. and the Pennsylvania Constitutions. Article 1 Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, aptly entitled “Inherent rights of mankind,” says “all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which is “pursuing their own happiness.”

    Article 1, Section 26 of the Constitution says, “Neither the Commonwealth nor any political subdivision thereof shall deny to any person the enjoyment of any civil right, nor discriminate against any person in the exercise of any civil right.”

    Furthermore, Article 1 Section 28 says, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because of the sex of the individual.”

    Had the couple sought the license today, I would have issued it and wished them all the freedom, independence, happiness and rights that our Commonwealth’s Constitution purports to grant to them.

    And here we are.

  10. John Phillips, FCD says

    Interestingly, he was interviewed by Rachel on TRMS last week and defended his actions on state constitutional grounds.

  11. cptdoom says

    @9 – David Brayton – It’s interesting to note that Newsome was able to issue so many licenses for so long because the courts refused to issue an injunction stopping him before the full court challenge could be heard. IIRC, the rationale for not issuing the injunction was because the courts could find no one was being harmed by the actions. That does present a difference between the actions of the clerks in PA and those in NY, as the latter were depriving (or could have been) couples of a legal document to which they were entitled.

  12. otrame says

    I believe in the right of anyone to commit civil disobedience. However, I also believe strongly in the rule of law, so such people must take the consequences of their actions, even going to jail, if the laws they break call for that. Thus, the NY clerks were perfectly within their rights to refuse to comply with the law, but they do not have the right to keep their jobs if they do.

    In PA, those flouting the law must take whatever consequences are within the law as well.

    See? Not so hard.

    The NY clerks did get fired. Right?

    Right?

  13. marcus says

    ‘flatlander’ ‘nuf said. Actually civil disobedience in the service of civil rights may be illegal but it is not necessarily wrong. Think Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.

  14. D. C. Sessions says

    The Montgomery Co. officials are as wrong, and for the same reasons, as the NY county officials who refused to issue licenses after the legislature made them legal.

    Key difference: the PA officials are acting on official advice of counsel. They ran a request through channels at both the County and Commonwealth levels and got advice from the AG that the PA Constitution bans all forms of discrimination, period, and that includes any statutory bar to SSM.

    So they’re not exactly relying on their own personal objections to the law like the NY clerks were.

  15. John Pieret says

    To the language police (you know who you are!), Merriam-Webster has decided that using “flaunt” in this sense can no longer be called substandard (though “you should be aware that many people will consider it a mistake”).

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flaunt

    All languages are whores but none more so than English, a language invented by Norman soldiers trying to get laid by Anglo-Saxon serving wenches.

  16. says

    I can’t help but feel I’ve fallen through the looking glass when county clerks issuing marriage licenses to loving couples is described as “lawlessness”.

  17. Synfandel says

    Merriam-Webster has decided that using “flaunt” in this sense can no longer be called substandard (though “you should be aware that many people will consider it a mistake”).

    This is why I don’t trust Merriam-Webster. It indulges far too much ‘evolution’ of language by means of ignorant misuse.

    OED says,

    Flaunt and flout may sound similar but they have different meanings. Flaunt means ‘display ostentatiously’, as in visitors who liked to flaunt their wealth, while flout means ‘openly disregard a rule or convention’, as in new recruits growing their hair and flouting convention. It is a common error, recorded since around the 1940s, to use flaunt when flout is intended, as in the young woman had been flaunting the rules and regulations.

  18. vmanis1 says

    I look forward to Merriam-Webster’s decree that `their’ and `they’re’ are synonyms.

    As to the subject of this thread, too many wingnuts confuse means with goals. `MLK used civil disobedience, so you can’t complain when we do the same.’ The difference was that MLK’s goal was ending discrimination, and civil disobedience a tool.

    As has been pointed out, the Montgomery County situation is not civil disobedience.

  19. D. C. Sessions says

    I look forward to Merriam-Webster’s decree that `their’ and `they’re’ are synonyms.

    How about plural’s?

  20. congenital cynic says

    Late to the party, but Jesus christ on a stick. When I read “flaunt” used where “flout” belongs I think my head will explode.

    Men flaunt their fancy cars, women flaunt their cleavage, but the self-righteous flout the law, and usually pay for it – like that wanker Kent Hovind who is in jail for failing to pay taxes.

    Love the OED.

  21. says

    “In addition, we call on the Pennsylvania Legislature to act immediately to pass a proposed marriage amendment preserving marriage as it has always existed throughout the state’s history as one man and one woman..”

    I’m guessing for much of its history PA probably forbid marriages of people from certain differing ethnic groups with each other. I wonder if NOM wants that included.

  22. Morgan says

    The Montgomery Co. officials are as wrong, and for the same reasons, as the NY county officials who refused to issue licenses after the legislature made them legal.

    Well, no. Refusing to provide someone with something they’re legally entitled to you (and which it is your job to provide to them) is worse than providing someone with something legally invalid.

    This case may also be wrong, but it’s not equally wrong, or wrong in the same way.

  23. John Pieret says

    Flaunt and flout may sound similar but they have different meanings. Flaunt means ‘display ostentatiously’ …

    Get over it, languages evolve and the only rule is how its used on the ground.. (Yes, someday their and they’re may be indistinguishable … and no great harm done.)

    In any case, fabuously dressed gays getting married in not quite legal ways can be justly called ‘flaunting the law.’ ;-)

  24. John Pieret says

    Ah, a stereotype AND a dumb typo.

    Which was why I had the winky icon … and it was a fabulously dumb typo!

  25. Moggie says

    John Pieret:

    Get over it, languages evolve and the only rule is how its used on the ground

    I hope you did that on purpose.

  26. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    *wipes tears of laughter from eyes* Oh… oh, that’s brilliant. Craig Andrussier, you are a legend.

    These county officials are brazenly flaunting the law; substituting their personal views for those of the people

    Oh noes! Mai ironee meter just asploded!

  27. freehand says

    Languages evolve, yes, but I’d rather not give in to people who are saying something incorrectly because they don’t really know what they’re saying. There is a cognitive, and literally literal difference between “there”, “their” and the contraction “they’re”. How would someone who writes “He should of done this…” diagram that sentence?
    .
    These common illiteracies are different from new vocabulary, verbing nouns (or vice versa), clever turns of phrase, foreign imports, or simple shorthand. I like wordplay, but not understanding what one is trying to say should not become an acceptable standard for change.
    .
    One problem is that language, if not guarded with some vigor, becomes Orwellian newspeak by sinking to the lowest common denominator. There are differences between infer and imply; and “If I were…” and “If I was…”. If that difference is lost, then it may be difficult to think of the difference, let alone express it.

  28. zenlike says

    The Montgomery Co. officials are as wrong, and for the same reasons, as the NY county officials who refused to issue licenses after the legislature made them legal.

    Bullshit, the NY official’s action caused a situation in which some people could not exercise their rights. The MC official’s action did not take any right away from any person.

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