Gay marriage licenses allowed in Johnson County

FILE- In this June 26, 2013 file photo, gay rights advocate Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag in front of the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

OLATHE, Kansas — A judge in northeast Kansas has ordered a county to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following actions earlier this week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Johnson County Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty issued the Amended Admin Order 14-11 Wednesday. He says it was meant to avoid confusion about the legal climate surrounding gay marriages.

As Judge Moriarty wrote in the administrative order, “Other states that have similar statutory and constitutional prohibitions against same-sex marriage have been declared to violate federal constitutional law.”

Moriarty continues by noting the fact that Kansas is in the same 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals with Colorado, Oklahoma, and Utah. Two appeals decisions have found unconstitutional state laws in each of those states.

The judge goes on to say that under current Kansas law, K.S.A. 23-2501, and according to a Kansas constitutional amendment, marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman and it, “imposes liability on clerks and judges who issues same-sex marriage licenses.”

The judge wrote, “Our citizens are entitled to exercise their constitutional rights, and our administration of justice should be free of any ambiguity or inconsistency.”

For Johnson County this order means that, “The clerk of the district court is directed to issue marriage licenses to all persons, regardless of gender, provided they otherwise are qualified.”

GAY MARRIAGE COURTKSN sat down with a local judge in Sedgwick County to ask him what the ruling means for residents outside Johnson Co.

“At present time, we are awaiting something of a final determination that would be uniform across the state of Kansas and hoping that something like that would happen soon,” said Judge James Fleetwood, who represents the 18th Judicial District.

Fleetwood said that he’s waiting for clarification, but said he will give out marriage licences to anyone who asks for an application, only to determine whether they are valid under Kansas law, following a three-day waiting period.

“The 18th Judicial District is not bound by an administrative order of the 10th Judicial District,” said Sal Intagliata, with Monnat & Spurrier in Wichita.

Local legal experts tell KSN each of the 31 judicial districts across Kansas will make their own determination concerning the issue of gay marriage, at least for now. This means that the 10th Judicial District that was issued in Johnson Co. does not automatically apply in Sedgwick Co.

To view each judicial district and how they are divided across Kansas, click here.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear appeals from five states seeking to preserve their bans on gay marriage. One of them was Utah, which is in the same federal appeals court circuit as Kansas.

The Kansas Constitution has banned gay marriage since 2005.

Governor Sam Brownback has previously released this statement on the issue:

“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.”

On Tuesday, before the administrative order was issued in the 10th Judicial District, Gov. Brownback responded to the Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the matter in several states.

“The people of Kansas voted. Nearly 70 percent supported the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. I support that. I think this is a matter that’s headed to the courts.”

When asked for his reaction to Wednesday’s order, Brownback referred back to a statement he previously released. It says:

“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.”

Click the document below to review the order:

Amended Admin Order 14-11
RELATED LINK:
Amended Admin Order 14-11

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