The Kansas Supreme Court [official website] decided [order, PDF] Tuesday to allow same-sex marriage licenses to be issued in the most populous county in Kansas. Johnson County had begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in October and was challenged in state court. A federal court decision [JURIST report] earlier in November declared the same-sex marriage ban in Kansas unconstitutional. A temporary delay was ordered [JURIST report] by US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor barring the state from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The application for the stay contended that the federal judge’s finding that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional interferes with the state supreme court’s review and circumvents the state court’s power. The application was ultimately denied by the court [JURIST report], making Kansas the thirty-third state to allow same-sex marriage. Johnson County marks the first Kansas Supreme Court ruling to allow same-sex marriage after the US Supreme Court ruling. The order states that the ruling is not binding on any other county in Kansas.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be one of the most controversial legal issues in the US today. Since the Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act [text] last year, numerous state and federal courts have declared state same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s [official website] recent decision that upheld same-sex marriage bans [JURIST report] in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee has increased the likelihood that federal rulings declaring same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional will go to the Supreme Court.