Professor Discusses Legal Complexities in Pennsylvania Lawsuit Over Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
Web Editor - Published: September 11, 2013
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Professor John G. Culhane

"The judge is struggling with 'How can I make a clean separation of these issues,' and he's trying to avoid going to the constitutionality," Professor John G. Culhane recently told the Philadelphia Inquirer following arguments before Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini on Wednesday, September 4th.

The Health Department initiated the lawsuit in an effort to prevent Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A 1996 state law makes same-sex marriages illegal, but Hanes believes that the law is unconstitutional.

Prior to the hearing, Culhane foreshadowed the thorny legal issues facing the President Judge, telling the Patriot-News a day before the hearing, ““It could be that the court tomorrow says we are not getting into the constitutionality issue. We are going to look at the question of authority and issue of mandamus and stay out of the constitutionality issue,” later adding, “it’s increasingly difficult to pretend those issues aren’t there. They may want to take a bite out of the big apple. If they do, this case will probably be solved in state court.”

A prolific writer and commentator on issues of marriage equality and the rights of same-sex couples, Professor Culhane has written more than two dozen articles for legal journals and has been regularly featured in national and local broadcast and print media, including The New York Times, All Things Considered, Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Huffington Post, Dissent, and WHYY television and radio. He is also a contributor to Slate Magazine, where he writes about tort and compensation issues, and he is the co-author, with Carrie Stone, of Same-Sex Legal Kit for Dummies.