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Religious Tolerance logo

Kansas: Legalizing gay marriage (a.k.a. same-sex marriage or SSM)
and working towards equal rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
and Transsexual (LGBT) community.

Part 7 of 8:
2014-NOV: Marriage equality finally came to
some, but not all, counties in Kansas .
2015-JUN: U.S. Supreme Court legalizes gay
marriages across the U.S. Implications in Kansas.
2015-JUL: Governor signs executive order to
protect religious groups that want to discriminate.

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This essay is continued from the previous essay

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2014-NOV-13: A patchwork of same-sex marriage laws across Kansas emerges (Continued):

One of the plaintiff couples in the Marie v. Moser lawsuit is Kerry Wilks and Donna DiTrani. Ms. Wilks said:

"I'm ready for Kansas to step up and do the right thing. "I'm ready for the governor and the attorney general and everyone to start recognizing everyone and for equality to come to Kansas." 9

Brad Cooper, writing for the Kansas City Star, said:

"A day after the high court’s ruling, a mixed picture was developing over where same-sex marriages in Kansas would be allowed.

Wyandotte, Douglas, Shawnee, Sedgwick, Riley and Cowley counties agreed to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Johnson County was still not allowed to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples under an order by the Kansas Supreme Court. The state’s high court will consider the Johnson County case Monday morning [NOV-17]. ..."

"Meanwhile, three counties in southeast Kansas — Butler, Greenwood and Elk — refused to give licenses to same-sex couples until they’re convinced they’re 'subject to a valid and binding court order'." 10

Johnson County is the most populous county in Kansas.

Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas -- a pro-equality group -- said:

"It’s basically chaos and confusion entirely created by our state government." 10

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Seven months pass

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2015-JUN-26: The U.S. Supreme Court legalizes marriage by same-sex couples across the entire country -- almost:

Just before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, district court clerks in 61 out of Kansas' 105 counties were routinely issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This was a relatively minor nuisance to many same-sex couples couples because they were forced to travel to an adjacent county to obtain a marriage license.

On JUN-26, the High Court issued its ruling in the Obergefell v. Hodges case. This is a consolidated case involving gay marriage lawsuits from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee. The decision legalized SSM in these four states, in another ten states that still had active SSM marriage bans, and in perhaps all 5 territories. The ruling requires each of these 55 or 56 jurisdictions to marry qualified same-sex couples and to recognize legal gay marriages that have been legally solemnized out-of-state.

Theoretically, the ruling was not effective for at least 25 days until JUL-21. This gave the defendants who lost in the Obergefell case time to ask that the Court reconsider their ruling. Apparently, none of the defendants from any of the four states filed such a request. However, most county clerks across the country began issuing licenses to same-sex couples quickly after the ruling was issued.

Krishnadev Calamur on National Public Radio quoted an Associated Press report that on JUN-29, some counties in Kansas:

"... are still refusing to comply with the ruling that gay and lesbian couples can marry." 12

However, John Hanna, writing for the Associated Press, said on Tuesday, JUN-30:

"Same-sex couples could get marriage licenses in all 105 Kansas counties Tuesday, but the state wasn’t yet allowing gay and lesbian spouses to change their last names on driver’s licenses or file joint income tax returns.

Several officials said Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is still studying the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared same-sex marriage legal across the nation." 11

Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, said that Gov. Brownback is:

"... playing politics with our lives."

Referring to the "Obergefell" ruling by the Supreme Court, Witt said:

“How hard can this be? It’s not rocket science. The excuses coming from the administration are ridiculous and offensive." 11

Sara Belfry, spokesperson for the state Health Department, indicated that her agency had to determine whether they would have to change health insurance plans for their employees, and eligibility rules for Medicaid to accommodate marriages by same-sex couples. 11

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2015-JUL-07: Governor Sam Brownback issued an executive order:

Governor Brownback (R) issued an executive order that allows both members of the clergy and religious organizations to discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds. He issued a statement saying:

"We have a duty to govern and to govern in accordance with the Constitution as it has been determined by the Supreme Court decision. We also recognize that religious liberty is at the heart of who we are as Kansans and Americans, and should be protected." 13

He explained that the purpose of the order was to protect:

"... Kansas clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in activities that violate their sincerely and deeply held beliefs." 13

The executive order does not refer to the traditional meaning of the term "religious freedom. That involves freedom of religious belief, speech, assembly, proselyzing, etc. These freedoms are already protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The order also has no impact on the right of clergy to refuse to marry any couple for any reason. Clergy have refused to marry couples because they are of the "wrong" religion, of the "wrong" denomination with a religion, of the "wrong" race, or are an interracial couple, or a same-sex couple, or judged to be too immature, etc.. Clergy have been discriminating in these ways for centuries with impunity.

The executive order will allow religiously-based adoption agencies to automatically reject any same-sex couples who are seeking to give a child a "forever" home. It will allow religiously-based medical facilities to refuse to serve same-sex couples. It will allow religiously-based schools to refuse to admit a student who is married to a same-sex spouse, etc. As in so many recent executive orders and bills on "religious freedom" in other states, it is an attempt to preserve the religious freedom to discriminate against minorities. Such activity is a major reason for the exodus of so many of the millennial generation who are rejecting the faith in whith they were brought up. They find their faith group's teachings on human sexality, the LGBT community, and some scientific topics to be antiquated, inaccurage, and sometimes even bigoted.

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This topic is continued in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Same-sex marriages cleared in Kansas, Missouri," USA Today, 2014-NOV-07, at:
  2. Amy Himmelberg, "Kansas Attorney General responds to Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denial of application for a stay in Marie v. Moser," Kansas First News, 2014-NOV-08, at:
  3. Michael winter, "Gay couples begin to marry in Kansas City," The Wichita Eagle, 2014-NOV-07, at:
  4. Lawrence Hurley, "U.S. justice temporarily blocks gay marriage in Kansas," Reuters, 2014-NOV-10, at:
  5. "Obtaining a marriage license in Kansas," US Marriage Laws, at:
  6. "Sotomayor Issues Order Temporarily Blocking Gay Marriage In Kansas," 2014-NOV-11, at:
  7. Peter Hancock, "Gay marriage now legal in Kansas," Lawrence Journal-World, 2014-NOV-12, at:
  8. "Uncertainty Clouds Gay Marriage in Kansas," U.S. News & World Report, 2014-NOV-13, at:
  9. "Same-sex couples react to gay marriage becoming legal in Kan.," KAKE-TV, 2014-NOV-, at:
  10. Brad Cooper, "Patchwork of same-sex marriage laws starts unfolding across Kansas," Kansas City Star, 2014-NOV-13, at:
  11. John Hanna, "All counties in Kansas allowing same-sex marriage licenses," The Washington Times, 2015-JUN-30, at:
  12. Krishnadev Calamur, "In Some States, Defiance Over Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Ruling," National Public Radio, 2015-JUN-29, at:
  13. Bryan Lowry, "Gov. Sam Brownback issues executive order on religious liberty after same-sex marriage ruling," The Wichita Eagle, 2015-JUL-07, at:
  14. "Kansas Bishops Issue Statement on Brownback Executive Order," Catholic Conference, 2015-JUL-07, at:
  15. "Kansas Miscellany," Public Policy Polling, 2014-FEB-24, at:

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Site navigation: Home > Same-sex marriage > SSM menu > Kansas > here

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2014-OCT-25
Last updated 2014-NOV-24
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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