Kansas Supreme Court continues ban on same-sex marriage licenses

TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Kansas Supreme Court late Wednesday said it will continue to block the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses but indicated it may be prepared to drop the hold.

In a statement from the state’s highest court just after 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, the court said it would continue it’s temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking the issuance of the licenses, close on the heels of Tuesday’s decision by a U.S. District Court Judge the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The court’s order was specifically directed at a Johnson County District Court judge who issued an administrative order a month ago to direct that court clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The first license was expected to be approved October 10th, but hours before it was issued the Kansas Attorney General’s office got the Kansas Supreme Court to issue the TRO blocking the action.

The state has argued the Johnson County judge was violating a voter approved amendment to the Kansas Constitution which states that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman, barring same-sex marriage applications.

The court ordered the state and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents two same-sex couples, to file briefs by 5:00 p.m. November 14th, on whether the TRO will be extended .

The court also ordered a delay in a separate, but related case, it was to hear Thursday morning from two couple which are asking to be allowed to file joint state income tax returns. Those returns are currently banned because the state amendment doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages. The hearing has been put on indefinite hold.

All this comes hours after Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed the state’s formal appeal of the Tuesday court ruling declaring the ban unconstitutional. That appeal was filed with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has already struck down similar bans in Utah and Oklahoma.

In making the appeal, Schmidt says the state is asking the case be heard en banc, which would be comprised of a panel of judges rather than making the appeal before a single judge of the circuit court. Schmidt said Tuesday that form of appeal had not been used by either Utah or Oklahoma and hoped it would get the court to cast a fresh eye on the Kansas appeal.

No date has been set yet on whether, or when, the appeals court would hear the case.

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