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ACLU to amend Kansas lawsuit to force state recognition of gay marriages

ACLU to amend Kansas lawsuit to force state recognition of gay marriages

WICHITA, Kan. — The attorney suing to overturn Kansas’ ban on same-sex marriage plans to amend the lawsuit to try to win state benefits for gay couples already married.

KansasThe U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that the state can’t enforce its ban on same-sex marriages.

But Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration said this week it will not change policy to recognize the marriages while it defends the ban against the federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Some counties have issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Doug Bonney, representing the couples suing the state, said Thursday that the lawsuit will be amended to force state agencies to grant full legal rights to the newly married couples, The Wichita Eagle reported.

“They’ve (the state) now made it absolutely clear . they’re going to fight for every inch of ground, they’re going to make us fight for every inch of ground on this,” Bonney said. “And there’s no chance they’re going to concede defeat on this.”

The Brownback administration’s stance prevents same-sex couples from changing a name on a driver’s license to the married name or receiving state health care benefits for spouses of state employees.

Brownback’s spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, told The Associated Press the administration is waiting for the lawsuit to be resolved before it makes any decision on allowing gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.

“Once there is resolution on the issue, we will direct state agencies to apply the applicable law. … We don’t have that clarity, currently,” Hawley said.

Bonney, the chief counsel of the ACLU of Kansas, said if necessary he would sue Brownback, who he said has the authority to direct agencies to treat same-sex couples the same way as heterosexual couples.

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“We’re trying to figure out who we sue, including possibly the governor,” Bonney said Thursday. “We’re very concerned about the state’s refusal to recognize marriages both performed in state and out of state, so we definitely will seek to amend our complaint to add these claims, because this can’t go on.”

Department of Revenue spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda said amending the lawsuit won’t change the department’s stance.

“There are court cases working their way through the system, and until they’re resolved, we’re not doing anything differently,” Koranda said. “It doesn’t really change anything.”

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