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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 31 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 44
Court tosses claim by Kansas Christians that marriage is their property
Westboro church wants in on the suit
Section One
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Court tosses claim by Kansas Christians that marriage is their property
Westboro church wants in on the suit

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The federal district court considering Kansas's ban on same-sex marriage has tossed out a petition from a Christian couple claiming they have a property right to the institution of marriage.

Phillip and Sandra Unruh petitioned to intervene in Marie v. Moser on the grounds that granting same-sex marriage rights would deprive them of their property - the institution of marriage - without due process, in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree scornfully rejected their claims, however.

'The Unruhs have identified no federal statute giving them an unconditional right to intervene in this case and the Court has identified no such statute,' Crabtree wrote in his decision.

'Specifically, the Court doubts whether plaintiffs can show that their marriage constitutes a protectable property interest under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution or that this case's disposition will impair their ability to protect that interest...

'But the Court need not decide those questions, because the Court concludes that existing defendants adequately represent the Unruhs' interests and denies their request for intervention of right on this basis.'

Instead, the Unruhs may submit an amicus brief, the judge concluded.

The Unruhs are not the only would-be litigants who want to get in on the case. On October 26 the Westboro Baptist Church filed a petition to intervene in the case as well.

In its filing, Westboro claims that Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt cannot adequately represent the church in the lawsuit.

'The Kansas Attorney General (representing all defendants) is unable to adequately represent WBC because of the political pressure that flows from widespread disagreement with WBC and her ministry and religious message,' the Westboro petition says.

Westboro claims it has a material interest in the case because court approval of same-sex marriage would, in fact, impose sin on Kansas citizens, to their detriment.

'WBC desires to assert that it is constitutional folly to suggest that a sinful-based behavior union should be a union that is afforded civil rights and granted the imprimatur of respectability by a license from the government; and that in doing so the government violates its duty of religious neutrality; and puts itself in the position of imposing sin on the citizens, to the great detriment and harm of the health and welfare of the citizenry,' the petition states.

Westboro - the creation of the late Fred Phelps, and still run by Phelps family members - is based in Topeka, Kansas. While it claims to be a Baptist church, it is not affiliated with any organized Baptist denomination.

Marie v. Moser was filed by the ACLU on October 10, on behalf of two Lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand all existing appellate rulings in favor of same-sex marriage. Among them were two Tenth Circuit court decisions.

Since the Tenth Circuit has jurisdiction in Kansas, the ACLU argues, same-sex marriages should be allowed to proceed there.

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