OLATHE, Kan. (AP/KSNT) — A judge in northeast Kansas has ordered a county to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following actions earlier this week by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Johnson County Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty issued the order Wednesday. He says it was meant to avoid confusion about the legal climate surrounding gay marriages.
“Kansas state courts have identical if not similar prohibitions against same sex marriage and purport to impose criminal liability on clerks and judges who issue same-sex marriage licenses,” said Chief Judge Moriarty.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear appeals from five states seeking to preserve their bans on gay marriage. One of them was Utah, which is in the same federal appeals court circuit as Kansas.
Chief Judge Moriarty says although no federal court has been asked directly to address the provisions of state statutory or constitutional provisions, their district court clerks and judges are entitled to be free of any ambiguity in the administration of justice and the issuance of marriage licenses.
Two women who are seeking the first same-sex marriage license in the most populous county in Kansas say they already feel married because they’ve been together nine years.
Angela and Jennifer Schaefer, of Gardner, went to the Johnson County Courthouse in Olathe on Wednesday to sign up for a marriage license.
They did so shortly after Johnson County Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty ordered court clerks to issue licenses to same-sex couples. They were the only couple to do so.
The couple has a 9-month-old son. Angela Schaefer is 31 and Jennifer Schaefer is 28 and took Angela’s last name in 2012.
Angela Schaefer said she believes getting married will ensure that she has full parental rights to their son.
The Kansas Constitution has banned gay marriage since 2005.
Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Republican supporting the gay-marriage ban, said Tuesday that the state ought to defend it in court because it the constitutional provision was enacted through a statewide vote. The American Civil Liberties Union expects to file a federal lawsuit to block enforcement of the ban.
The Associated Press attributed to this story.