Kirsten Andersen, LifeSiteNews.com
Same-sex “marriage” was legalized in Kansas’ most populous county this week after the state Supreme Court lifted its stay of a lower court ruling barring enforcement of the state’s marriage protection law.
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that Johnson County Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty did not overstep his bounds in ordering county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a decision handed down October 8. The ruling follows a U.S. Supreme Court order issued last week that forced two other counties, Douglas County and Sedgwick County, to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in response to a lawsuit filed by several lesbians.
While homosexual activists argue the U.S. Supreme Court ruling applies to all counties, not just Douglas and Sedgwick, state Attorney General Derek Schmidt disagrees. Because no other counties’ clerks were named in the original lawsuit, the state is not forcing other jurisdictions to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Meanwhile, Schmidt has vowed to defend the state’s marriage laws for “as long as a defense is properly available.”
In their ruling, the Kansas Supreme Court said they believe the U.S. Supreme Court ruling "is not as localized as the State argues," but declined to suggest any parameters for the decision. Instead, they said they will leave it to the federal judiciary to decide the ultimate fate of the state’s marriage protection amendment, which was passed by a majority of voters in 2005 and defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Attorney General Schmidt said in a statement that he had hoped the Kansas high court would rule in a way that left no ambiguity about the legality of same-sex “marriage,” and was disappointed that decisions will now have to be made on a county-by-county basis until the federal courts make a final ruling on the issue.
“Although we asked the Kansas Supreme Court to provide statewide uniformity, today’s ruling leaves the decision whether to issue licenses in the hands of the federal judiciary and of district court judges throughout the state,” Schmidt said.
“Because a provision in the Kansas Constitution is at peril, the State of Kansas will continue its defense in federal court as long as a defense is properly available,” he continued. “I hope the U.S. Supreme Court will quickly agree to take up the case from the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to give finality and certainty to Kansas and the rest of the country on this matter.”
The 6th Circuit is the first federal appeals court in the nation to uphold the legality of marriage protection laws, in contrast to the four other appeals courts that have struck them down. The discrepancy means that the U.S. Supreme Court will probably have to step in and decide the matter, but time is running out to do so during this session. The high court has only until January 16 to decide whether to hear the case during 2015. Otherwise, a decision could come as late as June of 2016, keeping states like Kansas in legal limbo while they wait for a final verdict.