The Kansas Supreme Court had the opportunity to settle the same-sex marriage issue in Kansas once and for all, but instead deferred to higher courts and ruled solely on Johnson County’s same-sex marriage dispute. The court removed the stay on Johnson County’s decision Tuesday to allow same-sex marriage licenses to be issued, removing another roadblock from same-sex marriage in Kansas. But the rest of the state still hangs in the balance.
The 4th Judicial District Court, which was waiting for the Johnson County ruling before issuing same-sex marriage licenses, will have to wait for another court ruling before it will begin issuing licenses, John Steelman, court administrator, said Wednesday. The 4th Judicial District presides over Franklin, Anderson, Osage and Coffey counties.
Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who has defended the state’s same-sex marriage ban to several levels of courts this past month, said he asked for the Kansas Supreme Court to find a uniform decision for the state, yet failed to do so, according to a news release.
“Although we asked the Kansas Supreme Court to provide statewide uniformity, Tuesday’s 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.”
Steelman originally said the 4th Judicial District would be ready to issue same-sex marriage licenses if the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a stay on a Kansas City, Kansas, federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ban. When the stay was lifted last week, Schmidt created an ambiguous understanding of the ruling for the state by arguing the decision to lift the stay only affected Douglas and Sedgwick counties.
Many counties across the state have held back on beginning to issue same-sex marriage licenses until the issue is resolved conclusively for the whole state, according to media reports.