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ACLU Seeks Rush On Gay Marriage Ruling In Kansas

Putting a rush on a ruling, the ACLU on Monday filed a request in federal court for a temporary halt to Kansas’ enforcement of its ban on gay marriage.

In following up on a complaint filed Friday, the ACLU asked the U.S. District Court to force the state to comply with a decision from Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. That ruling, made in June, overturned such bans in Utah and Oklahoma and said a state may not deny a marriage license based “solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”

The filing Monday is the latest in a flurry of court decisions and counters that have put the issue of gay marriage in Kansas on the fast track. Last week, a Johnson County judge allowed the issuing of marriage licenses to all couples, which led the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday to put a temporary halt on that, citing “statewide consistency” and further hearings.

If a federal judge rules on the Monday filing this week, as such a filing requests, it’s “possible” that marriages could happen this week, said Doug Bonney, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas.

All this action was triggered by the U.S. Supreme Court last Monday when it refused to hear the appeals from five states, effectively leaving the gay marriage rulings intact in those states.

“That means that the writing was clearly legible on the wall,” Bonney said. “So every minute that goes by in states that prohibit same-sex marriage is a minute when people’s constitutional liberties are being impaired and that can’t stand at all.

“There is absolute rush to our work here.”

But there are still those who seek to keep the ban in place. On Nov. 6, the Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, among others, about a Johnson County judge’s issuing of marriage licenses.

Schmidt moved Friday to halt Judge Kevin Moriarty’s order that allowed issuing of the licenses, leading one couple to be married that day.

The Johnson County court’s decision is an outlier," Schmidt said in a statement.  "Numerous other Kansas courts have concluded, as I have, that the law in Kansas remains unchanged and same-sex marriage remains unlawful."

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has also stated his opposition to gay marriage and said he will fight to uphold the ban.

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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