NORRISTOWN Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes filed arguments Monday asking the state Supreme Court to find Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban "patently unconstitutional."

Hanes is appealing a Sept. 12 Commonwealth Court ruling that forced him to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Hanes, who is represented by the county solicitor's office, argues that "refusing to provide such licenses to otherwise eligible couples would deny them this basic civil right to marry, in direct violation of Hanes' oath to uphold the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions."

Commonwealth Court had not allowed Hanes to raise constitutionality as a defense against the state Health Department's lawsuit.

Before the ruling, Hanes had issued 174 marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Dozens of those couples filed lawsuits to have their marriages recognized, but they have yet to come before a judge.

Attorneys for Hanes also argue, as they did in previous legal filings, that the Department of Health did not have standing to file the mandamus action against him and that Commonwealth Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

- Jessica Parks