Judge Ireland comments on same-sex marriage licenses
Judges within the 2nd Judicial District have clarified their stance on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in northeast Kansas.
Judge Mike Ireland, who serves Jackson County, said that all the judges within the district held a meeting with Chief District Judge Gary Nafziger on Thursday to discuss recent rulings allowing gay marriage in Johnson, Douglas and Sedgwick counties.
“Our number one responsibility as judges is to uphold the constitution,” Ireland said. “We swore an oath to protect it. As it stands right now, our constitution forbids same-sex marriage, and until the federal or state government tells us to do otherwise, we can only accept same-sex marriage license applications but not issue them.”
Ireland said that the judges don’t want to get in a situation where they issue a same-sex marriage license that could later be voided.
“We don’t want people to plan and do things thinking they have a valid marriage license, and then it turns out they don’t,” Ireland said.
As of Friday, no one in Jackson County had requested a same-sex marriage license, it was reported.
Two recent court cases in the state have resulted in the Kansas Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court lifting the bans on same-sex marriages in Johnson, Douglas and Sedgwick counties.
The Kansas Supreme Court has announced that it will defer to federal courts on whether Kansas’ ban on same-sex marriages is constitutional.
“Some federal courts say forbidding same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and other federal courts say it’s not,” Ireland said. “I think it’s going to be a year before we get an answer.”
While the situation remains unsettled in Kansas, same-sex marriage has been declared legal in 32 states plus the District of Columbia.