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ACLU Revises Challenge to Kansas Gay Marriage Ban

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The American Civil Liberties Union has updated its challenge to Kansas’s ban on same sex marriage to prevent the state from ignoring marriages performed in and out of state. The revised lawsuit is looking to require the state to extend insurance and taxes benefits to gay and lesbian married couples as well as allow them to legally change their names on identification to reflect their unions. The original suit was filed on the behalf of a single lesbian couple who were not granted marriage licenses in two different counties. The suit now adds an additional three couples agitating to have their marriages recognized.

Previously, Kansas governor Sam Brownback publicly asserted his refusal to grant gay couples the same marital benefits afforded to their straight counterparts.

"We are very disappointed the state has continued to play this obstruction game," said ACLU attorney Doug Bonney. "The time is here to recognize the marriages as valid and lawful just like any other marriage.”

Secretary of the Kansas Department of Revenue, Nick Jordan; director of the division of Vehicles, Lisa Kaspar; and director of the State Employee Health Plan have been added as defendants following the ACLU’s new revision. According to the lawsuit the each of the newly added defendants represents a Kansas agency responsible for discriminating against same sex married couples.


ACLU Will Sue Kansas to Force State Agencies to Recognize Gay Marriages

Kansas

The ACLU of Kansas is poised to amend its lawsuit challenging the ban on same-sex marriage in order to force state agencies to grant marriage benefits to same-sex couples.

Yesterday, we reported that despite marriage equality having commenced in many Kansas counties, Governor Sam Brownback was refusing to allow any state recognition of same-sex unions.

The Wichita Eagle reports:

Doug Bonney, who represented the couples suing the state, said the plaintiffs would amend their complaint to force state agencies to recognize the marriages and grant full legal rights to the newly married couples.

This includes the right to change the last name on your driver’s license to your spouse’s. For the spouses of state employees, it also includes receiving state health care benefits.

Bonney said they would sue Gov. Sam Brownback if necessary. He added the governor has the authority to direct agencies on how to respond to the ruling but said the administration’s combative response was disappointing. He also said it would cost taxpayers a lot of money in the long run.


Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback Refusing to Grant Marriage Rights to Gay Couples

Kansas

Despite marriage equality having already commenced in many counties in Kansas, GOP state officials are continuing to drag their heels in defiance, with Governor Sam Brownback announcing today that he will not allow any state recognition of same-sex unions. 

NPR station KCUR reports:

BrownbackBrownback said Thursday that he won’t offer any of the benefits heterosexual couples get, such as name changes on a driver’s license or employee benefits for gay and lesbian state workers.

“There is still considerable legal ambiguity on the topic of same-sex marriage,” said Eileen Hawley, a Brownback spokeswoman. “Once that ambiguity is gone, the governor will direct state agencies to comply with applicable laws.” 

The Wichita Eagle adds:

Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, an LGBT rights organization, said it was outrageous for state agencies to not treat legally married same-sex couples the same as they would newly married heterosexual couples.

“These are legal marriages legally performed in the state of Kansas,” Witt said.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt told the Associated Press on Wednesday that his vigorous defense of the state’s gay marriage ban is designed to get a final U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether such bans are constitutional.

While things get sorted out, Equality Kansas has a list of counties that are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Check out the list here


Kansas City Royals Marketing Executive Matt Schulte Comes Out as Gay - VIDEO

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Matt Schulte, marketing coordinator for Major League Baseball team Kansas City Royals, has come out in an interview with Outsports. 

As the Royals made their unexpected run through the playoffs this year, Schulte began exploring the idea of coming out. Through conversations with other out gay people in sports he saw a side of sports that was inclusive of gay people.

As team victories mounted this year and the elusive World Series drew near, his confidence grew and he began to find inner pride in a way he had never experienced before.

Although coming out to his father and stepmother had been a positive experience, doing so in the macho environment of Major League Baseball was a whole different matter.

"To walk into my boss's office, how do I set it up? Do I give them a warning? Do I spring it on them? I'm still not even totally comfortable with saying the words, 'I'm gay.'"

Still not knowing how to address the topic with co-workers and friends, he decided to share his story publicly via Outsports.

Watch Matt talk about his lifelong connection with Kansas City Royals, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continuing a positive recent trend, professional strongman Rob Kearney came out earlier this year as did Sky Sports presenter Mark McAdam.

[photo via Facebook]

Continue reading "Kansas City Royals Marketing Executive Matt Schulte Comes Out as Gay - VIDEO" »


Kansas Supreme Court Clears Way For Same-Sex Marriage In At Least One More County

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb07a7cca5970d-250wiEarlier today, we told you about the chaos and confusion that pervades the state of Kansas on the question of the legality of same-sex marriage. Now, a ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court has this evening further complicated matters, clearing the way for same-sex marriage in Johnson County but not necessarily the rest of the state. Just exactly how far reaching the court's ruling will be depends largely on how judges throughout the state will interpret it. From the Kansas City Star:

The decision means Johnson County will join a handful of Kansas jurisdictions where marriage licenses can be issued to same-sex couples. At least two such couples are expected to seek the licenses Wednesday, supporters of same-sex marriage said.

But the ruling eventually might be expanded beyond Johnson County. The court said other Kansas judges were free to reach the same conclusion as [Judge] Moriarty [who in October authorized the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kansas] — language that might convince other judges to order the licenses in their courthouses...

The Kansas Supreme Court did not determine whether the Kansas ban on same-sex marriages is constitutional. Instead, the court said it wouldn't decide until after the U.S. Supreme Court settles the issue.

You can read the court's order HERE


Chaos and Confusion in Kansas as Counties Make Their Own Decisions on Marrying Gay Couples

Confusion clouds the issue of marriage equality in Kansas, where a constitutional ban barring it was struck down by a federal court on November 4. The state sought a stay pending appeal from the 10th Circuit which denied it. The state then went to the U.S. Supreme Court with the same request. The request was temporarily granted, then denied by the full Court.

SchmidtNow, of the state's 105 counties, at least six are issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, others are refusing applications, and some (Ottawa and Saline) are taking applications but refusing to issue licenses, the Washington Post reports:

Jennifer Rapp, a spokesperson for Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (pictured), said his office has asked the Kansas Supreme Court “to provide further guidance to the district courts in light of the federal preliminary injunction.”

“We are awaiting a decision on this case,” Rapp said in an email.

Schmidt suggested earlier this month in a statement that a decision in the case applied to Douglas and Sedgwick counties, where two lesbian couples were denied marriage licenses.

“I think the Kansas attorney general has abdicated his responsibilities,” Witt said. “If anybody is causing chaos and confusion … it’s the Kansas attorney general.”

The Kansas Supreme Court is mulling Schmidt's request:

The Kansas court was reviewing a petition from state Attorney General Derek Schmidt, hoping to block marriage licenses for same-sex couples until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on whether the state’s ban on gay marriage is constitutional. The court discussed the case in a closed meeting, and spokeswoman Lisa Taylor couldn’t say when it would issue a ruling.

...Court spokeswoman Lisa Taylor said Monday that retired Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone and retiring Linn County District Judge Richard Smith are sitting with the court.

Meanwhile, gay couples are marrying in Topeka and 15 couples married on the steps of the Sedgwick County Courthouse in Wichita.

And a judge today ordered that couples be allowed to get married in Cherokee, Crawford and Labette counties.

Butler, Elk and Greenwood are among those not issuing licenses.

We'll keep you informed of this developing situation...


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