A Kansas state judge has ordered the Johnson County Clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Judge Kevin Moriarty issued an order Wednesday afternoon to “provide guidance and prevent confusion” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s actions this week.
Kansas falls under the jurisdiction of the Tenth Circuit, which ruled against same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma. Because the Supreme Court let the Circuit’s rulings stand in those cases, they are now precedent for the other states in the Circuit, including Kansas.
Moriarty explained that “if any case from Kansas were brought before a federal court, it would be bound by the Tenth Circuit decision” and that court would have “no doubt” rule against Kansas’ bans in a similar fashion.
Kansas law also sanctions clerks and judges who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Though no court has specifically addressed that matter, Moriarty declared that “our district court clerks and judges are entitled to protection from laws that are unconstitutional.” Citizens should be free, he wrote, “to exercise their constitutional rights” and officials should likewise be “free of any ambiguity or inconsistency in the administration of justice, including the issuance of marriage licenses.”
Clerks in Johnson County can begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples immediately. It is the most populous county in Kansas.