News (USA)

Kansas county issues state’s first marriage license to a same-sex couple


OLATHE, Kan. — A court office in Kansas’ most populous county issued a marriage license Friday to a gay couple, believed to be the first such license in the state.

Liz Dickinson, a member of the gay-rights group Equality Kansas, said she was at the county courthouse Friday when the couple received their license. The Johnson County District Court clerk’s office confirmed that a license was issued. The clerk declined to identify the couple.

That came two days after district court Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty directed clerks and other judges to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples – even though the Kansas Constitution bans gay marriage under a provision voters approved in 2005.

Moriarty acted after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from five other states seeking to preserve their gay-marriage bans. The states included Utah, which is in the same appeals court circuit as Kansas.

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But the wedding plans of gay couples across the state remain in limbo, with nearly all of the state’s 105 counties refusing to issue marriage licenses.

Some counties initially refused to even hand out marriage license paperwork to same-sex couples until the lawyer for the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration sent an email Tuesday to chief judges suggesting that counties accept the applications and noted that litigation was likely. The American Civil Liberties Union expected to file a federal lawsuit soon to block enforcement of the state’s ban.

But by late Thursday afternoon, the court clerk’s office in Johnson County had accepted 42 applications from same-sex couples. State law imposes a three-day waiting period.

Johnson County is home to affluent Kansas City suburbs. While it is a Republican stronghold, the GOP there is split between conservatives and moderates – and several moderate GOP senators were vocal critics of the ban on gay marriage before lawmakers placed it on the ballot in 2005.

Gay couple’s marriage application accepted, then denied, in Riley County

Update: 2:00 p.m. CDT

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge has denied a marriage license for a same-sex couple who said their application had been accepted with open arms a day earlier.

KMAN-AM reports that Darcie Bonhenblust and her partner, Joleen Hickman, found out Friday morning their application had been denied.

The two say the Riley County clerk told them Thursday when they filed their application there was a three-day waiting period and they could come back Tuesday to pick up their license. But on Friday morning they received an order from Judge Meryl Wilson denying the license.

Bohnenblust called the rejection disheartening but says she anticipates it eventually will come through.

Kansas asks court to block same-sex marriage licenses

Update: 12:15 p.m. CDT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas’ attorney general has asked the state Supreme Court to block same-sex marriage licenses, hours after a court office in the state’s most populous county issued one, believed to be the first in the state, to a same-sex couple.

The petition asks for an immediate order blocking the licenses, saying a judge exceeded his authority in ordering clerks and other judges to no longer deny marriage applications from gay couples. The Kansas Constitution bans gay marriage.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt told The Associated Press he wants to have the legal issues resolved in an orderly fashion. Full report here

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