Federal government recognizing same-sex marriage in states that don’t allow them

WICHITA, Kansas – Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Saturday that the United States Justice Department will recognize same-sex marriages to the greatest extent possible under the law.

“What he’s saying is married couples are married couples, and it doesn’t matter what state you live in,” said Thomas Witt, Executive Director of Equality Kansas.

The federal government in turn will recognize same-sex marriages in all 50 states including the 34 which say it’s illegal.

“It’s an abrogation of states rights and that the issues belong in the states and not at the federal government,” said Rep. Steve Brunk

Brunk says that won’t change the plans the state has going forward.

Last Thursday, House Bill 2453 passed out of the house committee. That bill shields Kansans who refuse to serve same-sex couples on religious ground.

Brunk says the bill will safeguard certain people if and when Kansas current laws on same-sex marriage are changed.

“It very narrowly protects individuals who have sincerely held religious beliefs from having to participate in a same-sex wedding or the ceremony,” said Brunk.

The bill has been met with some opposition with some groups calling it discrimination.

However, Brunk says that is not the case.

“With what other states have passed, same-sex marriage or have same-sex unions, they’re also very intentional about passing religious liberties.”

But groups like Equality Kansas say in the end the federal government’s decision will reign supreme.

“What the federal government saying they are going to do it one way and the states do it another, the federal government is bound by the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court, as are all the states,”
said Witt.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals recently struck down bans on same-sex marriage in Oklahoma and Utah.

Kansas could be next since they fall in the same district.

Regardless of the outcome, Brunk says House Bill 2453 will move to the house for a vote that should come some time this week.

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