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Pennsylvania court sets date to hear same-gender marriage case

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The state's Commonwealth Court will hear oral arguments next month on the governor's request to end same-gender marriages in the Keystone State, where voters in 1996 approved a referendum to ban gay weddings.

However, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), at least two mayors and a county official have begin marrying gay and lesbian couples in open defiance of the state law.

The hearing was set for Sept. 4 in Harrisburg.

Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, stepped in to defend the state law after state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat, declined to get involved and said she believes that the state law is unconstitutional. She also referenced the ruling by District Judge Vaughn Walker, who determined that California's Proposition 8 law, which took away marriage equality in the Golden State, was unconstitutional.

D. Bruce Hanes, Register of Wills in Montgomery County, Pa., an upscale community in the Philadelphia region, began issuing marriage licenses so gay and lesbian couples could marry. Since then, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman and State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham have hosted same-gender weddings.

Pennsylvania is the only state in the Northeast that does not legalize marriage equality or civil unions. New Jersey allows civil unions, and Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill passed by the Legislature that approved same-gender marriage. New Jersey lawmakers vow to try to override the veto later this year.