A federal judge ruled Friday that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment must recognize same-sex marriages, allowing gay and lesbian couples the same benefits as others.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree’s decision forbids the state agency from enforcing the now-unconstitutional Kansas law banning same-sex marriage, further clarifying just how Kansas must respond to the new law.
Several gay couples sought the order because even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 that marriage is a constitutional right, the state health department denied at least two couples the ability to place both of their names on their children’s birth certificates.
“While defendants have complied voluntarily in several important respects, the KDHE initially refused to treat two same-sex married couples the same as it treats opposite-sex married couples until the dispute was brought to this court’s attention,” Crabtree wrote.
The ruling also said the KDHE must allow couples to change their names on marriage licenses, file amended tax returns previous to 2015 and allow them to apply for health insurance coverage for their spouses, “just as they accept applications for opposite-sex spouses.”
“It would also require the state to allow same-sex couples to adopt children or foster children the same as any other couple,” said Doug Bonney, the ACLU attorney who filed the case.
Crabtree found that the KDHE did take some, “meaningful, albeit imperfect steps to implement the changes required by (the U.S. Supreme Court’s) mandate," but he still felt he should make the changes permanent.
A KDHE spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
Peggy Lowe is the investigations editor at KCUR 89.3 and Harvest Public Media. Find her on Twitter @peggyllowe.