Shawnee Co. Judge orders clerk to accept same-sex marriage applications

TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Shawnee County District Court says they will accept applications for marriage licenses but wants to keep in mind that Kansas law has not changed.

Shawnee County Chief District Judge Evelyn Wilson notes the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States declining to accept cases for review from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which found that laws in Utah and Oklahoma prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional does not apply to Kansas law. The 10th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals has not ruled on Kansas law.

“The court states until Kansas law is changed or there is a binding court ruling stating that the provision of the Kansas Constitution limiting marriage is unconstitutional, no same sex marriage licenses will be issued.”

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.

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.

As of Thursday, all but one of the state’s 105 counties were still refusing to issue marriage licenses. The one exception is in Johnson County which Wednesday said it will issue licenses to gay couples, setting up a potential legal battle.

Earlier Thursday a spokesperson for the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration tells Kansas First News the office recommended to county clerks and chief judges that applications be allowed if requested by same-sex couples, but applicants also be informed that at this time licenses would violate state law and would not be issued.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt have yet to return calls by Kansas First News on whether his office will step into the actions by the county judges. Schmidt said Monday he is prepared to uphold the state’s 2005 amendment to the Kansas Constitution which stated that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman. He was speaking at the time to a threatened lawsuit by the Kansas and Midwest Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. They unanswered question Thursday is how he will respond to the action by county judges to accept applications, but not issue licenses.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, 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 Associated Press contributed to this story.

 

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