Kansas attorney general seeks to block gay marriages

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 10, 2014 4:10 PM

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY Kan. (Reuters) - The Kansas attorney general on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to block same-sex marriage licenses, filing the petition hours after two women were married outside a county courthouse.

Two women were married shortly before 8:30 a.m. on Friday outside the Johnson County courthouse, District Court Clerk Sandy McCurdy said. Within hours, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked the state Supreme Court to nullify the Johnson County order to issue licenses and order that no others be issued.

McCurdy did not release the names of the couple, believed to be the first same-sex couple married in Kansas. But she said the pair was the only same-sex couple to apply for a license on Tuesday and so married on Friday following the three-day waiting period in Kansas law.

Fifty-two same-sex couples had sought marriage licenses as of Friday afternoon in Johnson County, McCurdy said.

On Wednesday, a judge in Johnson County, which borders Kansas City and is the state's most populous county, ordered court clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Kansas bans same-sex marriage by state law and its state constitution, a position expected to be overturned following a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday.

The high court decided not to review a U.S. appeals court decision striking down bans in Oklahoma and Utah, which are in the same U.S. appeals court circuit as Kansas, meaning the state is bound by that court's rulings.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said the attorney general's petition would ensure an orderly process and avoid confusion created by inconsistent judicial rulings.

"An overwhelming majority of Kansas voters amended the constitution to include a definition of marriage as one man and one woman," Brownback said in a statement. "Activist judges should not overrule the people of Kansas."

Johnson County has announced that it would issue marriage licenses and Shawnee County is accepting applications for license while awaiting court action before issuing licenses.

The ACLU of Kansas plans to file a federal lawsuit early next week challenging the ban on same-sex marriage, Doug Bonney, its chief counsel and legal director, said on Friday.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by David Gregorio)