Our opinion: A law is a law,
We have stated unequivocally in this space that we believe Pennsylvania’s anti-gay marriage law is doomed, and should be.
We stand by that belief, but we are placed in a conundrum by the case of the Montgomery County Register of Wills who has run afoul of the governor and the state Health Department for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
While we share D. Bruce Hanes’ belief that the state’s law is ultimately headed for the list of statutes people look back on and shake their heads in disbelief, at this point in time it is the law in Pennsylvania that marriages can only be the union of a man and a woman.
Thus, our conundrum.
We also believe that a law is a law, even if the law is wrong.
When the law is wrong, there are remedies other than flouting it. Laws can be repealed by the legislatures that originally enacted them. When they are found to be contrary to the constitutions of either the state in which they are enacted or the U.S. Constitution, they are rendered moot by the courts of either of those two levels of government.
Our prediction in the case of Pennsylvania’s 1996 anti-gay marriage law is that one or more of those actions is a fait accompli.
Mr. Hanes, we believe, has been swept up in the inevitable catharsis of this issue and is attempting to force the issue in front of a state appellate court, a form, one might say, of civil disobedience.
The Corbett administration, through its Department of Health, now must scramble to bring forth compelling reasons that the law must be upheld, perhaps even punish Mr. Hanes for his disobedience. To that end, the lawyers for the state have come up with some weak to the point of silly arguments, such as the chaos such marriages will rain down on the state bureaucracy and comparing adult gays with minor children in the eyes of the law.
Nevertheless, the law is the law – for now.
The bell tolls for Pennsylvania’s anti-gay statute. The Pennsylvania General Assembly should recognize that fact and repeal the law, saving that august body the embarrassment of being told that its law is contrary to the protections of personal freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.