Monday, October 13, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Developments In Kansas, West Virginia, Alaska

Developments relating to same-sex marriages have been moving rapidly in Kansas.  Last Wednesday, Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty of the state's 10th judicial district (Johnson County) issued Administrative Order No. 14-11 (Oct. 8, 2014), instructing the clerk of the court, as well as all deputy clerks, to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, on Friday (Oct. 10) Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed a petition (full text) for issuance of a writ of mandamus to stop the Johnson County order from taking effect, and asking the Kansas Supreme Court to decide the issue. (Press releaseMemorandum in Support of Petition). Before the state Supreme Court could act, one same-sex couple in Johnson County were married. (Kansas Equality Coalition statement.) However a few hours later, in State of Kansas v. Moriarty, (KA Sup. Ct., Oct. 10, 2014), the state Supreme Court issued a stay of Judge Moriary's order "in the interest of establishing statewide consistency." It set oral arguments for Nov. 6, but said that applications for same-sex marriage licenses may continue to be accepted. As pointed out by KCTV 5 News, the November hearing date is two days after the general election.

Meanwhile in West Virginia, on Thursday (Oct. 9) state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued a statement (full text) saying in part:
In the upcoming days, we will now seek to bring to a close the pending litigation over West Virginia’s marriage laws, consistent with the Fourth Circuit’s now-binding decision.... [However] only the State Registrar may alter state marriage forms, and the Secretary of State’s Office has authority over marriage celebrants and their ability to solemnize marriages.  While we will take steps to seek to end the litigation, the conclusion of the lawsuit cannot and will not alone effectuate the Fourth Circuit’s mandate.
AP reports that after the Attorney General's statement, State Registrar Gary Thompson sent a letter to clerks in all 55 West Virginia counties setting out new protocols for marriage licenses allowing for same-sex marriages. At least one couple was issued a license on Friday.

And in Alaska yesterday, a federal court declared its ban on same-sex marriages to be in violation of the 14th Amendment's due process and equal protection clauses.  As reported by Think Progress, the decision in Hamby v. Parnell(D AK, Oct. 12, 2014), came just two days after the court heard oral arguments in the case. However, according to KTUU News, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell issued a statement Sunday saying that he would appeal the decision.