Douglas County Grants Same-Sex Divorces Despite State Ban On Same-Sex Marriages

Jun 30, 2014

A couple holds their marriage license in Iowa, a state where same-sex couples can go to get legally married.
Credit Alan C. / Flickr-CC

Kansas' constitutional ban on gay marriage hasn't stopped same-sex couples from getting divorced in Douglas County.  

On Monday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske sat down with David Brown, a family lawyer in Lawrence who has personally helped two same-sex couples divorce. 

Brown says that the Kansas state constitution has to do with public policy, not the court's legal recognition of gay marriage.

"The marriages are valid in the states where they were performed, and they're valid under federal law," Brown says. "In essence, we sort of accomplish public policy, which is to not have same-sex couples married."

Many same-sex couples in Kansas get married in Iowa but cannot get divorced there because of a mandatory one-year residency requirement. Douglas County is the only county in Kansas that grants divorces. Johnson and Shawnee counties will grant annulments.

A decision last week by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down Utah's ban on gay marriage could change all of this since Kansas is under its jurisdiction. A stay was issued and the state of Utah has appealed to the Supreme Court, so there won't be any same-sex marriages there until the Supreme Court decides to hear the case.