WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The state is facing a Tuesday deadline to respond to a civil rights group’s demand that Kansas’ gay marriage ban be ruled unconstitutional - and not simply dismissed as moot - in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month that legalized same-sex unions nationwide.
The state asked U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree earlier this month to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Kansas’ ban. Attorneys noted that since the high court’s ruling, 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.
But the American Civil Liberties Union said the judge needs to rule the ban 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.
Crabtree gave the state until Tuesday to respond to the ACLU’s request. No arguments had been submitted by early afternoon.
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. But the judge never issued a formal
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.