State Senator Daylin Leach jumped head first Monday into the debate over the recent announcement by Montgomery County Register of Wills Bruce Hanes that he will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Leach officiated the marriage ceremony of two women earlier Monday.
“I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to officiate the marriage of a wonderful, loving couple this afternoon in Montgomery County,” Leach said. “Today’s ceremony proves that little by little, we are making strides toward full equality here in Pennsylvania. Each court ruling and each supportive decision made by elected officials puts another crack in the armor of discrimination. Today’s ceremony shows that love can indeed conquer all.”
Leach has long been a supporter of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights. He introduced the first bill in the state Senate to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010.
The marriage Leach presided over was between Sarah and Marcia Martinez-Helfman, who received a license from Hanes’ office last week. Leach is a registered officiant with the Universal Life Church and says that he will continue to officiated weddings and is planning to do another Monday evening.
Leach is currently running in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district, which is open thanks to Allyson Schwartz’s decision to run for Governor. His opponents include physician/activist Valerie Arkoosh, State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Phila), and former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies.
Hanes made headlines last week with his offer to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The decision was praised in liberal quarters, from which Leach hopes to draw votes in next year’s primary.
But Hanes took lumps from many, who said the rule of law depends on local elected officials following the law.
“Individual elected officials cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce,” said Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, a spokesman for Corbett’s Office of General Counsel told Philly.com. “All officials are constitutionally required to administer and enforce the laws that are enacted by the Legislature.”
The certificates are largely ceremonial; most if not all legal benefits of marriage will still be denied to the couples. But it does give the couples – and same-sex marriage advocates – a stronger leg to stand on in the ongoing legal showdown over marriage.
The ACLU is presently suing the state in an effort to overturn the ban.