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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...


Marriage Equality Begins in Kansas: PHOTOS

Kansas1

Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied Kansas' request for a stay on a lower court ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban and today same-sex couples across the state have begun tying the knot. 

The Associated Press reports same-sex marriages taking place in at least four counties: Douglas, Sedgwick, Cowley, and Riley. Other counties, however, are waiting on word from the Kansas Supreme Court before they take any action.

In the state most populous county, Johnson County, Court Clerk Sandra McCurdy said about 70 applications from same-sex couples are pending.

"Until I hear something from the Kansas Supreme Court, I'm not issuing any marriage licenses," McCurdy said Wednesday.

Earlier today, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback pledged to continue defending the state's gay marriage ban and Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the SCOTUS marriage decision applies to only Douglas and Sedgwick counties. The ACLU, however, maintains that the ruling applies in all 105 counties. 

Developing...

In the meantime, check out more photos and video of the historic day, AFTER THE JUMP...

[photo via Twitter/Kansas First News]

Continue reading "Marriage Equality Begins in Kansas: PHOTOS" »


Kansas Governor Sam Brownback Vows to Continue Defending State's Gay Marriage Ban Despite SCOTUS Ruling

Brownback

Despite the Supreme Court denying Kansas' request for a stay on a lower court ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban yesterday, Governor Sam Brownback has said he will continue defending the state's ban, the Associated Press reports:

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the governor issued a statement saying he took an oath to support the state constitution.

He added that he would review the decision and consult with state Attorney General Derek Schmidt on “how best we continue those efforts.”

In related news, marriage equality remains in limbo in Kansas:

Derek schmidtSchmidt [right] says that decision applies only in Douglas, a northeastern Kansas county, and Sedgwick, in south-central Kansas, where the court clerks are defendants. The American Civil Liberties Union contends the ruling applies in all 105 counties.

The legal situation in Kansas is complicated by another case before the Kansas Supreme Court, which Schmidt filed last month. He persuaded the Kansas court to block marriage licenses for same-sex couples, at least while his case is heard.

Marriage licenses in Kansas are issued by district court clerks' offices after a mandatory three-day wait. In Johnson County, Court Clerk Sandra McCurdy said about 70 applications from same-sex couples are pending.

"Until I hear something from the Kansas Supreme Court, I'm not issuing any marriage licenses," McCurdy said.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond, Virginia, law professor, said other clerks are likely to react the same way "out of an abundance of caution."


Sonia Sotomayor Issues Temporary Stay on Kansas Gay Marriage Ruling

SotomayorJustice Sonia Sotomayor has issued a stay on the ruling overturning Kansas gay marriage ban until "further order" by Sotomayor or the full Supreme Court, SCOTUSblog reports

Earlier today, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt had asked  Sotomayor for an emergency stay on Judge Daniel Crabtree's November 4 ruling that was set to go into full effect 5pm tomorrow. 

Sotomayor has asked same-sex couples to issue a response to Kansas' request for a stay pending appeal by 5pm tomorrow. 

Here's Sotomayor's order:


Westboro Baptist Church Files Tenth Circuit Appeal to Intervene in Kansas Gay Marriage Case

Wbc

With all signs pointing to gay marriage becoming legal in Kansas tomorrow, the Westboro Baptist Church is attempting a Hail Mary appeal.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 11.59.09 AMOn grounds of their religious beliefs, the WBC is trying to become a defendant in Marie v. Moser, the case  the case in which a federal judge struck down the Kansas marriage ban. The court denied the request, saying the WBC's presence would "clutter" the case.

Head AFTER THE JUMP to read the Westboro Baptist Church's appeal in its entirety. It's full of the loony language you'd expect from the group.

Given the Supreme Court does not issue a stay on the ruling, same-sex marriage will be legal in Kansas tomorrow at 5pm, when the stay on the decision expires (the state of Kansas' request for an additional stay was denied).

Having trouble keeping up with the latest marriage developments? Check out Matt Baume's 3-minute round-up, which should answer most questions.

Continue reading "Westboro Baptist Church Files Tenth Circuit Appeal to Intervene in Kansas Gay Marriage Case" »


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