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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 7 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 45
Kansas and Missouri marriage bans struck down
Section One
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Kansas and Missouri marriage bans struck down

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A federal judge struck down Kansas's ban on same-sex marriage on October 4, and a Missouri state judge followed suit on October 5, also striking his state's marriage ban.

In his decision, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree said he was bound by prior rulings from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Kansas.

'Because Kansas' constitution and statutes indeed do what Kitchen [the 10th Circuit ruling in the Utah case] forbids, the Court concludes that Kansas' same-sex marriage ban violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution,' Crabtree wrote in his decision.

In Kitchen v. Herbert, the Tenth Circuit held that the Fourteenth Amendment 'protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protections of a state's marital laws,' and that state laws that abridge that right for Gay and Lesbian couples are unconstitutional. That decision, and other similar ones by other appellate courts, was left standing when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear marriage case appeals.

Crabtree said that Kansas's request for a stay pending appeal was 'a relatively close call,' but was justified by the complexity of the case.

'[D]efendants' arguments have required the Court to make several jurisdictional and justiciability determinations, and human fallibility is what it is; the Circuit may come to a different conclusion about one of these threshold determinations,' he wrote. 'On balance, the Court concludes that a short-term stay is the safer and wiser course.'

Kansas state attorneys have until November 11 to file an appeal. If they do not do so, marriages can begin immediately.

Crabtree's ruling came in a case filed by the ACLU in Kansas on behalf of couples whose requests for marriage licenses were denied in at least two Kansas counties.



In Missouri, St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison ruled that a 2004 state constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

'The Court finds and declares that any same sex couple that satisfies all the requirements for marriage under Missouri law, other than being of different sexes, is legally entitled to a marriage license,' Burlison wrote in his decision.

The judge ordered that marriage licenses can be issued to Gay and Lesbian couples immediately, even though the Missouri Attorney general's office said they would appeal his ruling. In St. Louis city, four licenses were issued within two hours after the ruling.

Burlison's ruling comes more than four months after four couples were married at St. Louis City Hall, an act of civil disobedience orchestrated by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and then-Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter. In response, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed an injunction preventing more marriage licenses from being issued to same-sex couples.

Burlison's ruling is the second major victory in the state for same-sex marriage. In October, a Kansas City judge ruled that out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples residing in Missouri must be recognized by the state. The decision by Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs was the first by any judge affirming same-sex marriage in Missouri. That ruling affected more than 5,400 Missouri couples.

The Missouri ruling marks 49 successful challenges to same-sex marriage laws across the country. There have been only three losses.

Appeals in the Kansas case will go to the Tenth Circuit, but in the Missouri case they will go to the state's Court of Appeals.

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