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Federal Judge Tosses Kansas Gay Marriage Ban

A federal judge formally tossed out Kansas’ gay marriage ban on Monday, forcing Gov. Sam Brownback to allow state agencies to offer benefits to same-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled the provision in the state’s constitution that prohibits issuing marriage licenses to gay or lesbian couples violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Although it’s been six weeks since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, not all Kansas agencies were honoring the benefits provided by the higher court’s decision because Gov. Sam Brownback had not issued a directive, said Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas.

“The governor and the attorney general have been relatively reluctant to implement the ruling handed down by the U. S. Supreme Court on June 26,,” he said. “As of today, there still has not been a clear directive.”

Kubic said that lead to confusion and differing accounts about those benefits for things like health care for state employees or a name change on a driver’s license.

“Which means that it can be taken away at any moment, right? If there’s no real guidance, if there’s no real direction or instruction from the folks at the top, that’s a problem,” Kubic said.

An email seeking comment from Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who handled the case, was not returned.

The ACLU will next ask Crabtree for attorney’s fees, which are typically awarded plaintiffs who bring federal civil rights cases and win.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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