Kansas Supreme Court Allows More Gay Marriages

The Kansas Supreme Court has cleared the way for additional gay marriages in the state.

The court on Tuesday evening lifted its hold on marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Johnson County. The justices last month blocked such licenses while reviewing a petition from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

But the Kansas court did not address whether the state’s ban on gay marriage is constitutional. It said it wouldn’t consider the issue until the federal courts resolve a lawsuit filed month on behalf of two lesbian couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court last week told the state it couldn’t continue enforcing its gay-marriage ban while the ACLU’s lawsuit makes its way through the federal courts.

Since then, gay couples have been getting married in some, but not all Kansas counties.

Source: The Associated Press, “Kansas Supreme Court Allows More Gay Marriages,” TOPEKA, Kan. — Nov 18, 2014, 6:29 PM ET

Federal Judge Blocks Kansas’s Ban on Marriage Equality

BREAKING: With the stay lifted, same-sex couples in Kansas can begin applying for marriage licenses immediately. (November 12, 5:45 p.m. EST)

[On November 4, 2014], U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued a preliminary injunction in Marie v. Moser, ordering Kansas to stop enforcing its discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples.  Judge Crabtree granted the state’s request for a stay, so no marriages will begin until 5:00pm CST on November 11.

Kansas was the only remaining state within the jurisdiction of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled earlier this year that bans on marriage equality violate the U.S. Constitution.  Those rulings were allowed to stand when the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the cases on appeal, paving the way for marriage equality to become law in all states within the Tenth Circuit where marriage bans were still in effect – Colorado, Wyoming and now, Kansas.

“Kansas’ same-sex marriage ban does not differ in any meaningful respect from the Utah and Oklahoma laws the Tenth Circuit found unconstitutional,” Judge Crabtree writes.  “Because Tenth Circuit precedent is binding on this Court, Kitchen and Bishop dictate the result here.”

The state now has the option to appeal today’s order to the Tenth Circuit, which has already ruled such marriage bans unconstitutional.

With Kansas, 33 states will have marriage equality.  Congratulations to the plaintiff couples, the ACLU and all those working to secure marriage equality nationwide in America!

Source: HRC Blog, “Federal Judge Blocks Kansas’s Ban on Marriage Equality,” November 4, 2014 by Charlie Joughin

Judge rules against Kansas same-sex marriage ban

A federal judge has ruled against the ban on same-sex marriage in Kansas.

A federal judge has ruled against the ban on same-sex marriage in Kansas.

As voters headed to the polls for Election 2014, a federal judge on Tuesday ruled against the ban on same-sex marriage in Kansas.

In a 38-page decision, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree, an Obama appointee, issued a preliminary injunction against the enforcement on Kansas law prohibiting of marriage rights for same-sex couples. The injunction is warranted, Crabtree writes, because of legal precedent and because state officials defending the law haven’t made a sufficient case they would prevail in court.

“Because Kansas’ constitution and statutes indeed do what Kitchen forbids, the Court concludes that Kansas’ same-sex marriage ban violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution,” Crabtree writes. “Accordingly, the Court grants plaintiffs’ request for preliminary relief and enters the injunction described at the end of this Order.”

A temporary stay was included as part of the decision, so same-sex couples won’t be able to in Kansas until 5 pm Central Time on Nov. 11, unless defendants sooner inform the court they won’t seek an appeal before the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The litigation filed before the court was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas to compel the circuit to confirm to judicial precedent enacted the Tenth Circuit rulings against same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma, which lie within the same circuit as Kansas.

According to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, the ruling opens to door to marriage for an an estimated 4,009 cohabiting same-sex couples in Kansas. An estimated 22 percent of these couples are raising nearly 1,750 children in their homes.

The decision comes on the heels of a hearing on Friday on the matter of issuing a preliminary injunction in the case. According to the Associated Press, the state urged the judge not to block the state from enforcing the ban until a decision from the Kansas Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hold hearings on a related case on Nov. 6, but the ACLU maintained further delay would harm same-sex couples in Kansas. At the conclusion of the hearing, Crabtree said he would decide whether to issue a preliminary injunction in the case “as quickly as we can.”

Kansas prohibition on marriage rights for same-sex couples, known as Kansas Proposed Amendment 1, was ratified at the ballot as part of the state constitution by 70 percent of the vote. Gov. Sam Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt defended the law in court against litigation and campaigned on those efforts ahead of Election Day in Kansas.

Source: Washington Blade, “Judge rules against Kansas same-sex marriage ban,” by Chris Johnson |  November 4, 2014

LANDMARK VICTORY: 10th Circuit Appeals Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry

** BREAKING: The 10th Circuit has upheld a lower court ruling finding that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry in Utah is unconstitutional! This is the first federal appellate court ruling since ‘Windsor.

 

Today the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled in favor of same-sex couples’ freedom to marry, upholding a marriage ruling out of Utah in December. It is the first ruling by a federal appellate court since last year’s victory in the Supreme Court and, unless reversed, will pave the way for the freedom to marry throughout the 10th Circuit, including in Colorado, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Kansas.

The ruling is stayed pending further action, which could include an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

The ruling, written by Judge Lucero, reads:

Having heard and carefully considered the argument of the litigants, we conclude that, consistent with the United States Constitution, the State of Utah may not [deny a citizen the benefit or protection of the laws of the State based solely upon the sex of the person that citizen chooses to marry]. We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws. A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.

Read the full ruling HERE. 

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:

Today, from the heart of the Mountain West, in a case arising out of Utah, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has brought us one giant step closer to the day when all Americans will have the freedom to marry. This first federal appellate ruling affirms what more than 20 other courts all across the country have found: There is no good reason to perpetuate unfair marriage discrimination any longer. America is ready for the freedom to marry, and it is time for the Supreme Court to bring our country to national resolution and it should do so now.

The decision is in Kitchen v. Herbert, brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and private counsel, on behalf of same-sex couples. Meet two of the plaintiffs, Derek Kitchen & Moudi Sbeity, and Laurie Wood & Kody Partridge, HERE.

Currently, 44% of Americans live in states where gay couples share in the freedom to marry: 19 states and the District of Columbia. Recent polling by the Washington Post/ABC News shows 59% of Americans support marriage, including a majority of young evangelicals and Republicans under 45 in other polls.

Oregon and Pennsylvania became the most recent states to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after courts found the ban on the freedom to marry unconstitutional. In total, 22 rulings in recent months have found that state bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional.

Learn all about pending marriage litigation – the 70+ cases in every single state in the country – HERE.

Kansas House passes bill allowing refusal of service to same-sex couples

(CNN) — Denying services to same-sex couples may soon become legal in Kansas.

House Bill 2453 explicitly protects religious individuals, groups and businesses that refuse services to same-sex couples, particularly those looking to tie the knot.

It passed the state’s Republican-dominated House on Wednesday with a vote of 72-49, and has gone to the Senate for a vote.

Such a law may seem unnecessary in a state where same-sex marriage is banned, but some Kansas lawmakers think different.

They want to prevent religious individuals and organizations from getting sued, or otherwise punished, for not providing goods or services to gay couples — or for not recognizing their marriages or committed relationship as valid.

This includes employees of the state.

The politics

The law claims to protect the rights of religious people, but gender rights advocates such as Equality Kansas are dismayed.

“Kansans across the state are rightly appalled that legislators are spending their efforts to pass yet another piece of legislation that seeks to enshrine discrimination against gay and lesbian people into law,” state chairwoman Sandra Meade said.

“HB 2453 is a blatant attempt to maintain second-class citizen status for taxpaying gay and lesbian Kansans.”

Despite the blowback, its chances of passing seem pretty good.

Republicans dominate the state’s Senate and Gov. Sam Brownback is a conservative Christian known for taking a public stand against same-sex marriage.

Brownback has already praised the bill in an interview with a local newspaper.

“Americans have constitutional rights, among them the right to exercise their religious beliefs and the right for every human life to be treated with respect and dignity,” he told The Topeka Capital-Journal.

The details

HB 2453 is titled “An act concerning religious freedoms with respect to marriage” and covers many bases.

It reads, in part: “No individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender:

“Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement.”

Anyone who turns away a gay couple not only can’t face a civil suit, but if anyone tries to sue, they could get nailed with the other side’s legal fees.

There are some small concession in the bill to gay couples.

If an employee at a nonreligious or government business refuses to serve a gay or lesbian couple for religious reasons, the manager is obligated to find another employee who will oblige.

It also explicitly says that the law does not authorize discrimination against anyone, including clergy, who performs or supports same-sex unions.

The trend

The Kansas bill would seem to buck the trend.

Laws approving same-sex marriage have recently passed in many parts of the United States, bringing the total number of states where it is legal to 17. Add to that the District of Columbia.

Worldwide, 16 other countries (and parts of Mexico) also have laws allowing same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships. Most of the nations are in Europe and South America.

Judge rules Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages

Nevada stops defending ban against same-sex marriage

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gay and lesbian couples in Kansas may be refused service more often
  • A bill protects individuals, groups and organizations that turn them away for religious reasons
  • It “seeks to enshrine discrimination,” rights group leader says
  • If one employee refuses to serve, the employer must ask others to

Source:  “Kansas House passes bill allowing refusal of service to same-sex couples,” By Ben Brumfield and Dana Ford, CNN, updated 7:59 AM EST, Thu February 13, 2014

CNN’s Sonya Hamasaki contributed to this report.