WICHITA, Kan. — A federal judge in Kansas can do nothing more in a lawsuit filed by a civil rights group that has not already been done by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month that legalized same-sex unions nationwide, Kansas argued Tuesday in a court filing.
The state reiterated its request that U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree dismiss as moot a pending lawsuit filed last year challenging the state’s gay marriage ban.
Kansas contended in a court filing that continued litigation “serves no legitimate purpose.”
Since the high court’s ruling, the state noted that Kansas has been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and awarding them the same tax, health insurance and other benefits given to married couples. It also argued the five same-sex couples named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit no longer have standing to sue because the benefits they seek have already been given to them without the need for a final judgment or permanent injunction in their case.
But the American Civil Liberties Union contends that the judge needs to explicitly strike down the Kansas ban as unconstitutional because there is “a real and on-going possibility” that someone will enforce it. The ACLU said conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s statements on the issue have been “equivocal at best,” and that neither he nor the attorney general has issued clear directives acknowledging the Supreme Court decision’s binding effect in Kansas.
The group noted that judges in other states have issued such rulings since the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on June 26.
The ACLU sued the state in October on behalf of two lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses in Douglas County in northeast Kansas and in Sedgwick County in south-central Kansas. Other same-sex couples later joined the suit seeking various benefits normally granted to married couples.
Kansas law has long defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and voters overwhelmingly supported amending the Kansas Constitution to ban gay marriage in 2005.
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