Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat, delegated defense of the marriage law in a federal lawsuit to Mr. Corbett, a Republican. Ms. Kane’s position has been that the law, which limits marriage to between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.
The court also directed the lawyers to address whether the Health Department has standing to file the case and, if not, the implications of Ms. Kane’s position.
“This case is about one thing: whether a local official may willfully disregard a statute on the basis of his personal legal opinion that the statute is unconstitutional,” Mr. Corbett’s lawyers wrote in a filing last week.
A spokesman for Mr. Corbett’s Office of General Counsel, Nils Frederiksen, said local officials such as Mr. Hanes don’t have the authority to disregard state law based on their personal legal opinion.
“Decisions about the constitutionality of a state law are in the hands of a court,” Mr. Frederiksen said.
Mr. Hanes‘ legal team has said the Health Department needs to be more specific about whatever harm it thinks could occur and has argued there is a conflict between the state’s marriage law and Mr. Hanes‘ oath to uphold the national and state constitutions.
The state’s marriage law, they wrote this month, “affects a fundamental human right, and precludes an entire class of individuals from enjoyment of that right.”
Bryn Mawr residents Joanne Glusman and Joan Bennett are one of the couples who obtained a license from Mr. Hanes. The native Pennsylvanians have been together for 18 years.
“We went into it not really knowing what it would mean for us legally,” Ms. Glusman said, but the hope was they’d get the same rights their married siblings have.
“It causes a lot of unease,” Ms. Glusman said, adding that the couple is “disheartened and actually fearful” over what may happen if the Corbett administration prevails in the case.
“We were both born and bred here. We don’t want to move,” Ms. Glusman said.