Kansas Attorney General explains suit on same-sex marriage licenses

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked the state’s highest court to block the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday.

The action came just hours after a Johnson County District Court judge issued such a license, five days after the U.S. Supreme Court said it would not consider three different appeals from lower courts which ruled same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.

Here’s Schmidt’s reasoning behind the appeal:

““On Wednesday afternoon, the Chief Judge of the District Court of Johnson County declared a provision of the Kansas Constitution invalid and ordered the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of Kansas law as it currently exists.  No lawsuit was pending that asked the Judge to evaluate current Kansas law, and there was no opportunity for the State of Kansas or anybody else to challenge or even have input into the Judge’s administrative order before it was issued. This is not a proper way to determine whether a provision of the Kansas Constitution remains in force and effect.

“The Johnson County Court’s decision is an outlier.  Numerous other Kansas Courts have concluded, as I have, that the law in Kansas remains unchanged and same-sex marriage remains unlawful unless and until a Court of competent jurisdiction, deciding a properly presented case or controversy, holds otherwise as a matter of federal constitutional law.  Because that has not happened, I have concluded the Judge’s decision to order the issuance of licenses is unlawful and I now have no choice but to ask the Kansas Supreme Court to set it aside.

“Monday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court declining, for now, to settle the dispute about whether the U.S. Constitution renders state-law prohibitions on same-sex marriage unenforceable has caused considerable confusion and legal uncertainty in Kansas and other states.  This confusion was compounded when only two days later Justice Kennedy issued a stay halting same-sex marriages in Idaho. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to refuse to consider the pending appeals has resulted in an inconsistent patchwork of how the U.S. Constitution is to be applied in different states throughout our country.  In Kansas, the confusion and uncertainty have been made worse by this outlier decision that effectively renders the Constitution’s meaning different from county to county.

“The situation is needlessly uncertain, is untenable and is unfair to all interested parties. Therefore, I have asked the Kansas Supreme Court to step in and put a halt to the actions in Johnson County so that this important legal dispute can be settled in an orderly manner, with all the processes and safeguards afforded in litigation,that provides legal clarity and certainty to all involved.

”I am a strong advocate for an orderly resolution of this dispute in a way that can be accepted as legally correct and that allows the State to defend its Constitutional provision and its laws.”

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