An antigay activist who sought to intervene as a defendant in several legal challenges to Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage equality has been blocked in doing so.
On March 4, U.S. District Court Judge Mary McLaughlin denied Radnor resident James Schneller's request to become an intervenor in Palladino v. Corbett, a case filed by a local couple legally married in Massachusetts. The couple is asking the court to compel Pennsylvania to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed out-of-state.
Schneller, 58, president of the antigay Philadelphia Metro Task Force, has previously attempted to block the implementation of several LGBT-inclusive municipal nondiscrimination ordinances.
McLaughlin noted in her ruling that Schneller made no "legal arguments that would assist current counsel, and the court cannot determine any 'special interest' held by the [Schneller and Metro Task Force] that entitles them to participate in this action."
Late last month, Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini also denied Schneller’s efforts to become a party in the case brought by several-dozen same-sex couples who were granted marriage licenses in Montgomery County.
Schneller argued that the potential overturning of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage would infringe upon his religious freedom, but Pellegrini said Schneller did not properly demonstrate how he would be personally affected.
Also in February, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones also denied Schneller’s request to become an intervenor in Whitewood v. Wolf, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a group of same-sex couples, two children and a widow.
In that case, Jones said Schneller’s involvement in the case could “introduce undue complexity and hinder the speedy resolution of this case.”
Schneller filed a Feb. 20 motion for reconsideration of his request.
Schneller is also seeking to become a party in a municipal-level challenge and in another case filed in federal court.
Also in the Whitewood case, both parties recently agreed that Bucks County Register of Wills Donald Petrille could have a reduced role in the proceeding. Petrille was named as a defendant after he denied a same-sex couple a license. Petrille will not be required to attend the trial, scheduled for this summer.