There's no need for same-sex couples to line up at the Delaware County Courthouse hoping to get their hands on a marriage license.
They'll come away empty-handed.
Delco Register of Wills Hugh Donaghue yesterday said he had no intention of following the trail blazed by his counterpart in Montgomery County, D. Bruce Hanes.
Hanes, no doubt inspired by word from our esteemed Attorney General Kathleen Kane that her office would not defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage against a challenge by the ACLU, and a recent Supreme Court knocking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, started handing out licenses to gay couples this week.
Donaghue has no intention of following suit.
Good for him. It's the right call.
That should not be interpreted as an endorsement for the state ban. It's a relic from another time. People's opinions on same-sex marriage are changing rapidly. Statewide polls now indicate support for such unions.
My problem with both Kane and Hanes - aside from what seems to be some real political grandstanding - is not in arguing the merits of the law. I agree. It needs to be changed. But that's not their call.
Personal beliefs don't change this fact: Pennsylvania has a law on the books right now that defines marriage as essentially a contract between one man and one woman as husban and wife. It does not recognize same-sex marriage.
Is it constitutional? I am guessing probably not.
But that is not a determination to be made by a register of wills, or even an attorney general. That's what we have judges for, to interpret and rule on challenges to the law. The ACLU lawsuit will get a full hearing in court. Unfortunately, the state will not get a defense from its elected attorney general. The Kane Mutiny has taken care of that.
The lawsuit almost assuredly will wind up in front of the state Supreme Court.
It's a safe bet the case will not be argued in the register of wills office, aside from at the water cooler.
The correct - and fastest - way to remedy this problem is through the Legislature. Remember them? They're the people who write the laws. The courts interpret them, and the attorney general enforces them. All of them. Not the ones she agrees with, or does not find "wholly unconstitutional" or morally indefensible.
Hugh Donaghue made perfect sense yesterday when he indicated Delaware County would not be offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
"The reason being that we are going to follow the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," Donaghue said in response to a query from this newspaper.
They in fact have received requests from two same-sex couples and rejected both requests.
Donaghue made it clear that should the law be changed, his office would be more than happy to issue the licenses.
At least one newspaper editor agrees with him. Hold the presses!