Kansas Supreme Court blocks marriage licenses for same-sex couples

Kelli, left, and Angela pose for a picture after their wedding ceremony at the Johnson County Court House in Olathe, Kan., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. The Johnson County newlyweds asked to be identified only by their first names to help protect their privacy, but did agree to allow a photograph of them after the ceremony to be used. In a statement released through the gay-rights group Equality Kansas, they said they wanted to celebrate privately. Courtesy Liz Dickinson-Snyder (Via AP)

Kelli, left, and Angela pose for a picture after their wedding ceremony at the Johnson County Court House in Olathe, Kan., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. The Johnson County newlyweds asked to be identified only by their first names to help protect their privacy, but did agree to allow a photograph of them after the ceremony to be used. In a statement released through the gay-rights group Equality Kansas, they said they wanted to celebrate privately. Courtesy Liz Dickinson-Snyder (Via AP)

Kelli, left, and Angela pose for a picture after their wedding ceremony at the Johnson County Court House in Olathe, Kan., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. The Johnson County newlyweds asked to be identified only by their first names to help protect their privacy, but did agree to allow a photograph of them after the ceremony to be used. In a statement released through the gay-rights group Equality Kansas, they said they wanted to celebrate privately.

Update: 10:30 p.m. CDT

TOPEKA, Kan. — Hours after Kansas’ most populous county issued a same-sex marriage license to a couple who quickly wed, the state Supreme Court on Friday blocked the granting of any more such licenses.

But the victory for supporters of the Kansas Constitution’s ban on gay marriage could be short-lived. The state’s highest court signaled in its brief order that it has questions about whether the ban is permissible under recent federal court rulings, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn it.

The state’s highest court acted on a petition filed by Attorney General Derek Schmidt to stop the Johnson County District Court clerk’s office from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. The first such license – believed to be the only one – was issued Friday morning under an order from Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty.

Moriarty concluded that the state’s ban on gay marriage would not stand after the U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear appeals from five states seeking to save their prohibitions on same-sex marriages. But at the time of the first legal gay marriage in Kansas, there was no pending lawsuit in state or federal courts directly challenging the Kansas ban. That prompted the response from Schmidt.

Article continues below

Gov. Sam Brownback, a fellow Republican, expressed support for Schmidt’s move and said the ban should not be overturned by “activist judges.” The constitutional provision was approved in a statewide election in 2005 with nearly 70 percent of voters backing it.

The gay rights group Equality Kansas remained confident that the state’s ban will fall, even if executive director Tom Witt acknowledged some frustration that Schmidt refused to acquiesce to marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

“It’s delay caused by the attorney general and Sam Brownback, and it’s unnecessary because we know how this ends,” Witt said.

Schmidt said his goal is to “freeze the status quo in place until the legal dispute can be properly resolved.”

This Story Filed Under

Comments