Campaign underway to oust Kansas judge who allowed gay marriage licenses

Johnson County, Kan., Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty

Johnson County, Kan., Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty

LOUISBURG, Kan. — The husband of a state senator from northeast Kansas has begun a campaign to oust a trial judge who ordered a court clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Johnson County, Kan., Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty

Johnson County, Kan., Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty

Brian Baumgardner announced the campaign against Johnson County Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty on Friday, accusing him in a statement of believing that his “personal views supersede legal protocol, the will of the voters, and the Kansas Constitution.”

Johnson County voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to retain Moriarty for another four-year term in the 10th Judicial Circuit. He was first appointed by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2004 and won retention votes in 2006 and 2010.

Baumgardner and his wife, Republican state Sen. Molly Baumgardner, live in the town of Louisburg in neighboring Miami County. But he told The Kansas City Star that “a bad judge harms everybody.”

“I have watched this stinker for 20 years,” said Baumgardner, who teaches at Johnson County Community College. “He is a prime example of an activist judge with a super ego.”

Moriarty issued his administrative order Oct. 8, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand lower-court rulings striking down bans on gay marriage as unconstitutional. The Kansas Supreme Court quickly barred the issuance of any licenses at the request of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and has scheduled a hearing on the matter Nov. 6.

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Critics have said Moriarty didn’t have the authority to issue the order since he was not asked to decide on a specific case challenging the Kansas constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage.

In a statement Oct. 10, Moriarty said he acted “based upon my understanding of the law. I do not regret my decision. What I do regret is that my decision has caused other judges in Johnson County and Kansas to be unfairly labeled by some individuals who do not agree with this decision.”

Molly Baumgardner was appointed by Johnson County Republican precinct leaders to fill a vacancy in the Kansas Senate in April. She is running unopposed in November for a full term.

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