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Gay Marriage Ruling Increases Chances Of Overturning Ban In Kansas


A U.S. Supreme Court decision expected to expand gay marriage laws could be good news for those advocating for same-sex unions in Kansas and Missouri.

In a surprise move, the high court on Monday declined to intercede in five pending cases, a move seen as increasing the number of states allowing same-sex marriage from 19 to 24, along with the District of Columbia.

The decision is good news for Kansas gay marriage advocates, since two of the cases were from Utah and Oklahoma, part of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, said Doug Bonney, legal director of ACLU of Kansas. Kansas is also part of the 10th Circuit.

Both Utah and Oklahoma have gay marriage bans, which were struck down in June by the federal appeals court. A same-sex marriage ban was approved in Kansas by voters in 2005.

Monday's decision was "courageous," Bonney said.

"Same-sex couples are going to go forth and get married," Bonney said. "The genie will be out of the bottle and there’s no way to put the genie back in.”

Bonney said he’s been waiting for this decision and has been considering filing a lawsuit in a Kansas court.

“I’ve thought ever since the Utah case was decided – and the Oklahoma case shored it up – that we would have an excellent chance of being successful in Kansas,” he said.

In Missouri, where advocates were still celebrating Friday’s victory in Jackson County Circuit Court, Monday’s decision was not as clear. On Friday, Judge Dale Youngs ruled that the state’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, calling it “arbitrary.”

Youngs ruled that Missouri must recognize the unions of same-sex couples legally married in other states.  

Although Monday's ruling won't directly affect Missouri, courts now have a clear signal how the highest court will rule, said Tony Rothert of the ACLU of Missouri.

Although Attorney General Chris Koster, who defended the state's gay marriage ban, has not yet said if his office will appeal, Monday's decision "should not be lost on the attorney general in deciding how to proceed in the cases pending in Missouri," Rothert said.

The ACLU of Missouri has filed a federal lawsuit and a county suit seeking marriage licenses for gay couples. 

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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