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No En Banc Hearing for Pa. Clerk Challenging Same-Sex Marriage

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD | Last updated on

We called it. Back in July we saw the writing on the wall when a Pennsylvania county clerk named Theresa Santai-Gaffney told the Standard-Speaker, "I've never surrendered" in her fight to keep the Keystone State's same-sex marriage ban alive. Well, it looks like she might just have to.

On Monday, the Third Circuit denied the Schuylkill County clerk's motion for a hearing en banc, essentially leaving her with one option: the U.S. Supreme Court.

Whether she will "surrender" now remains to be seen.

Same Sex Marriage in Pennsylvania

In Whitewood v. Wolf, Judge Jones III struck down Pennsylvania's same sex marriage ban, stating, "We are better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history."

The next day, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett released a statement noting, "The case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal" and declaring that he would not "appeal Judge Jones' decision." Under normal circumstances, that would be the end of things.

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Theresa Santai-Gaffney's Appeal

But county clerk Theresa Santai-Gaffney picked up where Gov. Corbett left off, filing a motion to intervene. Purportedly speaking for the people of Pennsylvania, she stated: "The people of Pennsylvania deserve to hear from the court of appeals on this important issue because a single judge should not be able to nullify the will of the majority without an appeal."

Unfortunately for her, Judge Jones and the Third Circuit denied her motion to intervene. Unfazed, she filed an appeal with Justice Alito seeking a stay while she tried to gain standing in her appeal.

Without comment, Justice Alito denied her motion for stay, reports The Associated Press. Santai-Gaffney was apparently "brokenhearted" and vowed to not give up the fight.

What's Next?

Santai-Gaffney's latest effort has been to file a motion asking the Third Circuit for rehearing en banc, which on Monday, the Third Circuit denied. According to LGBTQ Nation, and based on her previous unwavering actions, Santai-Gaffney is expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, though we doubt she will be successful.

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