In a turn of events everyone saw coming, federal court Judge John Jones III, who previously ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, has denied an inexplicable challenge by some person in Schuylkill County.

That person: Theresa Santai-Gaffney, the publicly-elected Register of Wills in the northeast Pa. county. Bloomberg reports that Jones denied Santai-Gaffney’s quixotic, hilariously self-unaware challenge saying that “there is nothing remotely ambiguous about how Santai-Gaffney must perform her duties relative to issuing marriage licenses…At bottom, we have before us a contrived legal argument by a private citizen who seeks to accomplish what the chief executive of the commonwealth, in his wisdom, has declined to do.”

Basically, Jones is saying that because he, a federal judge, already ruled on the matter and that Governor Tom Corbett, the chief executive of Pennsylvania, has declined to challenge Jones’ ruling, gay marriage is here to stay.

Santai-Gaffney spoke to Philly Now on the phone last week about her seeming declaration that she was the true voice of the people despite all evidence to the contrary. After all, even a year before the recent gay marriage ruling, a solid majority of Pennsylvania’s supported marriage equality for LGBT folks.

“The commonwealth should be heard,” Santai-Gaffney said then to Philly Now. “And I believe that the voice, that our [anti-gay marriage] law [was] constitutional and [served] all the citizens of Pennsylvania and not just one person.”

Ironically, Santai-Gaffney seemed to have no idea that the vast majority of Pennsylvanians actually supported marriage equality in the first place and that she was the one person crying about it and trying to rain on everyone else’s parade.

Then again, anti-gay types dressing up their bigotry in mealy-mouthed legalese is nothing new. Still, it’s sort of amusing when you look at the chain of events here:

  1. A majority of Pennsylvanians support marriage equality in 2013.
  2. The United States Supreme Court rules the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibiting federal recognition of gay marriage unconstitutional in 2013.
  3. Federal Judge John Jones III rules Pennsylvania’s state version of unconstitutional in 2014.
  4. Republican Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania refuses to challenge Jones’ ruling making gay  marriage legal in Pennsylvania.
  5. Some person in Schuylkill County doesn’t like this. She thinks that because she’s an elected official and she doesn’t like gay marriage that she has legal standing to subvert the will of the vast majority of Pennsylvania’s residents, the federal courts in Pennsylvania, and her own ally Governor Tom Corbett. She then says she doesn’t like one person subverting the will of the people to a journalist.

All that aside, you have to give Santai-Gaffney props for letting us take a look into her alternate universe.

In everyone else’s reality, though, it seems she, and other anti-gay marriage legislators and trade organizations, are just pissed that queer people get to have families now.


Image via Know Your Meme

About The Author

Contributing columnist

Josh Kruger is an award-winning writer and commentator in Philadelphia. His @PhillyWeekly column, “The Uncomfortable Whole,” took the First Place Spotlight Award for weekly newspaper commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists in both 2014 and 2015 and the Second Place Award for weekly newspaper commentary in the U.S. and Canada from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia in 2014; and, the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association presented him with the Edith Hughes Emerging Journalist Award in 2015. Along with his column, Josh blogs daily for PW on various topics including queer culture and news, mass transit, politics, crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, civil liberties, activism, media and everything else Philly.

One Response

  1. 6/23 Morning Buzz | PoliticsPA

    […] WHYY Newsworks: Panel’s funding predicament could delay review of plan for Pa. pension changes Phillynow.com: Smackdown: Federal judge denies Schuylkill County official in gay marriage […]


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