Kansas AG files suit on same-sex marriage issue

The Kansas attorney general announced today he is filing suit on the same-sex marriage license issue in Kansas.

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from five states that wanted to retain a ban on same-sex marriage, leading to several same-sex weddings throughout the nation, including one in Johnson County, Kan., on Friday.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a news release that he is asking the Kansas Supreme Court to provide clarity on what procedure state district courts must use in handling applications for marriage licenses by same-sex couples.

In a response, Thomas Witt, executive director of the Kansas Equality Coalition, issued this statement:

“Sam Brownback and Attorney General Schmidt need to stop playing election year politics with people’s lives and allow these legal marriages to proceed. The federal courts have ruled, and we all know how this will end. Delaying the inevitable is a waste of time and taxpayer money, and a gross injustice to LGBT Kansans and their families.”

Kansas Attorney General Schmidt’s statement:
“On Wednesday afternoon, the chief judge of the District Court of Johnson County declared a provision of the Kansas Constitution invalid and ordered the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of Kansas law as it currently exists. No lawsuit was pending that asked the Judge to evaluate current Kansas law, and there was no opportunity for the State of Kansas or anybody else to challenge or even have input into the Judge’s administrative order before it was issued. This is not a proper way to determine whether a provision of the Kansas Constitution remains in force and effect.

“The Johnson County Court’s decision is an outlier. Numerous other Kansas courts have concluded, as I have, that the law in Kansas remains unchanged and same-sex marriage remains unlawful unless and until a court of competent jurisdiction, deciding a properly presented case or controversy, holds otherwise as a matter of federal constitutional law. Because that has not happened, I have concluded the judge’s decision to order the issuance of licenses is unlawful and I now have no choice but to ask the Kansas Supreme Court to set it aside.

“Monday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court declining, for now, to settle the dispute about whether the U.S. Constitution renders state-law prohibitions on same-sex marriage unenforceable has caused considerable confusion and legal uncertainty in Kansas and other states. This confusion was compounded when only two days later Justice Kennedy issued a stay halting same-sex marriages in Idaho. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to refuse to consider the pending appeals has resulted in an inconsistent patchwork of how the U.S. Constitution is to be applied in different states throughout our country. In Kansas, the confusion and uncertainty have been made worse by this outlier decision that effectively renders the Constitution’s meaning different from county to county.

“The situation is needlessly uncertain, is untenable and is unfair to all interested parties. Therefore, I have asked the Kansas Supreme Court to step in and put a halt to the actions in Johnson County so that this important legal dispute can be settled in an orderly manner, with all the processes and safeguards afforded in litigation, that provides legal clarity and certainty to all involved.

”I am a strong advocate for an orderly resolution of this dispute in a way that can be accepted as legally correct and that allows the state to defend its Constitutional provision and its laws.”

Gov. Sam Brownback, in a news release, stated: “I swore an oath to support the Constitution of the state of Kansas. An overwhelming majority of Kansas voters amended the Constitution to include a definition of marriage as one man and one woman. Activist judges should not overrule the people of Kansas.”

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