According to Pennsylvania state law, “marriage shall be between one man and one woman.” According to D. Bruce Hanes, a county clerk in suburban Philadelphia, that law was bunk ever since the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. So in late July, Hanes began issuing marriage licenses to any same-sex couple who came through his Norristown office. “I decided to come down on the right side of history and the law,” he said of his decision, according to Philly.com.
That will be determined in court today, as Hanes goes to trial for issuing 164 licenses to same-sex couples, 98 of which have been filed and completed, according to the Associated Press. In a sign of how knotty the entanglement of state and federal marriage laws can be, state Attorney General Kathleen Kane has given her opinion that the state’s marriage law is unconstitutional, and she is pursuing a federal challenge to the statute. If she succeeds, Hanes may flip from vigilante back to law-abiding clerk overnight.