Same-sex marriage licenses available in Jackson County

Same-sex couples can now apply for a marriage license in Jackson County.

Applying for a same-sex marriage license and having that license approved are two different things, however.

“Just because they can apply for a license, doesn’t mean they’d be issued one,” clarified Jackson County Clerk of the Court Colleen Reamer Tuesday. “The application would have to approved by Judge Gary Nafziger of the 2nd Judicial Court.”

Reamer said that, as of Tuesday, the clerk’s office had not received any requests for a same-sex marriage license.

The change in policy stems from two court cases where judges have lifted bans on same-sex marriages in Johnson, Douglas and Sedgwick counties. The rulings on these cases have created some confusion among judges across the state, with some judges approving same-sex marriage licenses and others not.

On Tuesday, the Kansas Supreme Court issued an order lifting the ban on same-sex unions in Johnson County. 

Earlier this year, Johnson County Judge Kevin Moriarty instructed a court clerk to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt challenged that decision.

Schmidt has said it’s his “duty” to defend the state’s ban on gay marriage because voters approved the ban in 2005. The federal case remains in the appeals process this week.

After the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision to allow the issuance of marriage license to same-sex couples in Jackson County, Schmidt released the following statement:

“Although we asked the Kansas Supreme Court to provide statewide uniformity, the 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. 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.”

Same-sex couples in Douglas and Sedgwick counties have also challenged the state’s ban on same-sex marriage after they were denied marriage licenses earlier this year. That lawsuit wrapped up last Wednesday, Nov. 12, after U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled that the Kansas ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

After that ruling, many counties, including Shawnee, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples while Schmidt argued that the Supreme Court’s decision applied only to Sedgwick and Douglas counties.

“We’ve had a lot of changes in the past week,” Reamer said. “First it was yes, then it was no and now we are offering applications for same-sex couples.”

As a result of the rulings, some judges throughout the state are accepting same-sex marriage applications but declining to issue licenses until the state Supreme Court deems the ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional throughout the whole state, citing they don’t want to issue licenses that could be deemed “voidable.”

According to a Topeka newspaper, Judge Nafziger has not signed off on a same-sex marriage license to a Valley Falls couple in neighboring Jefferson County, which is also part of the 2nd Judicial District, because of the current appeals process.

There is a mandatory three-day waiting period for all couples seeking a marriage license, Reamer said. The marriage license fee in Kansas is $85.50.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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