same-sex marriage

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For a while, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback was saying it was going to be pretty difficult to start offering benefits to same-sex couples who worked for the state following the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

It took a few days, but the state finally started granting gay and lesbian couples benefits. But local governments have been quietly offering same-sex benefits for some time.

The LGBT community has won a battle on marriage equality but workplace, education and other discrimination problems continue. We find out from a panel of local LGBT leaders what challenges remain.

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The same day the Kansas governor vowed to protect “religious freedom,” Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order to ensure state agencies are implementing last month’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at protecting "religious freedom"  for clergy that refuse to marry same-sex couples.

The order will protect the religious liberty of those who feel they may be forced to sanctify such unions after the U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 26, Brownback said.

"Today’s executive order protects Kansas clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in activities that violate their sincerely and deeply held beliefs," Brownback said in a statement.

The order comes a day after Brownback quietly allowed state agencies to comply with the high court's ruling, so couples can now do things like place state workers’ spouses on health care plans.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has withdrawn his challenge to same-sex marriage in the state, dismissing his lawsuit against a Johnson County judge who directed clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Schmidt’s move follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the country.

Schmidt on Tuesday filed a notice of dismissal of his lawsuit with the Kansas Supreme Court. The two-page document, citing the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v.Hodges, said the action was now moot.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR

And what hasn't? Kansas City couples tell us how the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage has -- and hasn't -- changed things for them. 

Guests:

  • Donna and Dorothy Loyd
  • Angela Kelly

The U.S. Supreme Court  handed down some historic decisions this week. Among those was Obergefell v. Hodges in which the Court upheld the right to marry for same sex couples in all 50 states. On this edition of Up To Date, we analyze the decision and hear reactions from across the spectrum. 

Guests: 

@mayorslyjames / Twitter

For some Kansas Citians, Friday's Supreme Court decision that same sex-couples have the right to marriage meant holding back tears at work.

That was the case for Twitter user Nicolette Martin (@nicoletteemma).

For Josh Neff, the decision meant breaking "the news to my LGBTQA daughter."

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR

Marriage equality advocates in Missouri and Kansas rejoiced Friday as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states are not allowed to place bans on unions by same-sex couples.

NPR's legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg talks about two impending supreme court decisions that will determine the future of the Affordable Care Act, and same-sex marriage itself. 

Ludovic Bertron/Flickr

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage pending, many people in Kansas and Missouri are confused about the state of the unions here.

In shorthand, whether same-sex couples can get married depends on where you live. Both states are a marriage mixed bag, with some counties offering licenses and others refusing to allow gay weddings.

To clear up some of the confusion as we await word from the high court, here’s our FAQs on TTK (tying the knot):

Q: Just what is the high court deciding?

Two issues: whether states have the right to ban same-sex marriage; and whether states can refuse to recognize those marriages performed in other states. 

Put another way, to quote SCOTUSblog: “1.) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2.) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?”

Q: Where can same-sex couples get marriage licenses now?

Missouri —  three places: the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County.

Kansas — Johnson County and 60 other counties (out of a total of 105 counties), where clerks or judges decided to honor a federal appellate court decision.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

What does the U.S. Supreme Court decision on extending marriage benefits to same-sex couples, expected in late June, mean for Missouri and Kansas?

For months, the hodgepodge of counties where gay couples may – or may not – get a marriage license in both states has been confusing. That’s thanks to numerous court decisions on both sides of the state line. Most of the rulings overturned laws that bar gay couples from marrying, so licenses have been allowed in some counties.

Update, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11:

The Kansas City, Mo., City Council voted Thursday to extend city pension benefits currently offered to couples in conventional marriages to legally-married same-sex couples.

“So this is just one more example of our commitment to being inclusive to all of our citizens in Kansas City,” Councilwoman Jan Marcason said before the unanimous vote.

The original post continues below.

The ACLU wants all state agencies in Kansas to recognize same sex marriages. The group is now asking a federal court to make it happen.

The court filing specifically names several state officials, including the secretary of revenue. It says people in same sex relationships have been denied state benefits, like joining their spouse’s health insurance or filing joint taxes.

Thomas Witt, with the group Equality Kansas, says the courts have let same sex marriages go forward in Kansas, and that means they should also be recognized by state agencies.

Alan C. / Creative Commons-Flickr

 

The American Civil Liberties Union has broadened its lawsuit over Kansas’ ban on same-sex marriage, seeking to enforce inheritance, driver's license and health insurance rights on behalf of same-sex couples.

The original lawsuit was filed in October by two lesbian couples and sought a ruling that Kansas’ same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The amended complaint seeks to require state officials to recognize the marriages of couples who were wed in other states as well as in Kansas.  

A federal judge in Missouri has declined to lift the hold on his judgment striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Winning Marriage Equality

Nov 24, 2014

Gay marriage advocates have been gaining key victories all over the country. These successes are part of a larger strategy that's been in the works for years.

On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with the author of a new book about why winning at the state level is a key part of the plan to change laws nationwide. We also check out what's next in the campaign for marriage equality.

Guest:

Wikipedia -- Creative Commons

A new report ranking Kansas City-area companies on LGBT equality essentially gave the Missouri side a B — and Kansas a C. 

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Although gay and lesbian couples are getting married in at least 24 Kansas counties, Gov. Sam Brownback won’t allow any state recognition of the unions.

Brownback said Thursday that he won’t offer any of the benefits heterosexual couples get, such as name changes on a driver’s license or employee benefits for gay and lesbian state workers.

“There is still considerable legal ambiguity on the topic of same-sex marriage,” said Eileen Hawley, a Brownback spokeswoman. “Once that ambiguity is gone, the governor will direct state agencies to comply with applicable laws.”

Wikipedia -- Creative Commons

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization, calls Kansas City, Mo., “a beacon of hope” for the LGBT community.

Kansas City, Kan., however, represents a city “at the opposite end of the spectrum” in terms of LGBT rights, according to a new report.

“The simple reality is LGBT people in Kansas City are living in two completely different worlds divided by a line,” the Washington-based group says in a statement.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Updated at 2:34 p.m.

At least six of Kansas' 105 counties issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Thursday, a day after  the U.S. Supreme Court let take effect an order overturning  a ban state officials had feverishly hoped to keep in place.

Same-sex marriages will be allowed to go forward in Kansas.

That comes after the U.S. Supreme Court decided Wednesday not to block the marriages while a lawsuit over the issue waits before an appeals court.

Kerry Wilks, from Wichita, and her partner Donna are parties in the lawsuit. She says she was thrilled to hear the news.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

Updated, 5:10 p.m. Friday:

The Jackson County Recorder of Deeds began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday afternoon after a federal judge in Kansas City struck down Missouri's same-sex marriage ban.

Jackson County officials had told couples seeking marriage licenses they would have to wait because the judge's order had been stayed. But  Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders directed the Recorder of Deeds office to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples Friday afternoon.

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis City circuit court judge ruled Wednesday that Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

"The Court recognizes that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right and liberty deeply rooted in the history of the United States," St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison said in his ruling. 

CJ Janovy / KCUR

A federal judge today struck down Kansas’ law and constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, ruling they violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and handing a major victory to same-sex marriage proponents.

CJ Janovy / KCUR

A federal judge on Friday did not rule on a case filed by two gay couples who want marriage licenses in Kansas. One of the couples blamed the state's delay on election-year politics.

The case, originally filed Oct. 10, was heard in open court by U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree, who did not say when he would announce a decision.  The couples are seeking marriage licenses, which would, in effect, overturn the Kansas gay marriage ban.

Johnson County District Court

The Johnson County, Kan., judge who approved the issuing of marriage licenses for same-sex couples is now the subject of a recall.

Bruce Baumgardner, a physiology professor at Johnson County Community College, on Friday announced that he is trying to oust Johnson County Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty by urging people to vote against him in the November election, according to the Kansas City Star.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

As public opinion changes and support for same-sex marriage increases across the United States, we reached out to Kansas Citians to see whether their views had taken a turn.

Our curiosity comes as the state of Kansas is making moves toward and away from making gay unions legal in the Sunflower State.  

There's been a lot of ambiguity in the laws surrounding same-sex marriage in Kansas, with Johnson County clerks first given a green light to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and then swiftly given the red light in short order. So how do couples evaluate their options while the state is in limbo? And what's happening in the courts right now? 

Guests:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas appears to be close to filing a lawsuit aimed at overturning the Kansas ban on same sex marriage. The suit could come as soon as next week.

Johnson County, Kansas, has attracted a lot of attention after a judge there ordered workers to begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. But Doug Bonney, with the ACLU of Kansas, says it doesn't look like other counties are following suit.

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