Judge orders marriage licenses for same-sex couples in 3 Kansas counties

Chief Judge A.J. Wachter

Chief Judge A.J. Wachter

PITTSBURG, Kan. — The chief state district judge for three southeast Kansas counties has directed court clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Chief Judge A.J. Wachter

Chief Judge A.J. Wachter

Chief Judge A.J. Wachter issued an order Monday covering the 11th Judicial District of Cherokee, Crawford and Labette counties.

Wachter said in his order that two same-sex couples have applied for licenses in the district.

His order is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court‘s decision last week allowing same-sex marriages while the federal courts consider a lawsuit challenging the state’s gay-marriage ban.

Wachter said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision is binding.

He acknowledged that the Kansas Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on the state’s ban, but said he doesn’t expect a conflicting decision.

Wachter also said there’s no reason the gay couples should wait for a license.

Meanwhile, in the 13th Judicial District in south-central Kansas, Chief Judge David Ricke said in a statement Monday that Butler, Elk and Greenwood counties will continue to comply with the ban on same-sex marriage per the state constitution.

Ricke says his district will continue to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples until he is convinced it falls under a binding court order that “clearly and unequivocally” requires its district court clerks to issue them.

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