A pair of lawsuits over gay marriage has created a legal tangle in Kansas that allowed some gay couples to get marriage licenses, while others could only wait. Here are a few questions and answers to help sort through it all:
Q: Where do things stand?
A: Clerks across Kansas handed out marriage license applications to gay couples Thursday. For most, there’s a three-day state-mandated waiting period before they can get married. Some couples received licenses, either because they had applications that passed the wait period or because a judge waived the requirement.
Q: Why’s that?
A: The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for gay marriage in Kansas on Wednesday evening. The attorney general said the decision applied to only two counties, but officials beyond Douglas and Sedgwick counties granted licenses anyway Thursday.
Q: What’s with the confusion?
A: Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has said it’s his duty to defend the state’s ban on gay marriage, because voters approved it in 2005. He has a case pending before the state Supreme Court that he says should prevent gay couples in all but the two counties from getting married.
Q: What’s next?
A: The Kansas Supreme Court plans to start deliberating Schmidt’s case Monday morning. The court gave parties on both sides until 5 p.m. CST Friday to make their case in legal filings.
Q: How many couples are getting married?
A: Judges in at least four counties around Kansas issued marriage licenses Thursday and gay couples seemed to have little trouble getting applications that started the clock on their three-day waiting period. A Wichita minister says at least a dozen couples plan to wed in a mass ceremony Monday and that she wouldn’t be surprised to see 100 to 150 people take part. Any couple that received a license can marry without further delay.
Q: So does this all mean gay marriage is legal in Kansas?
A: Yes. Sort of. District court judges say that barring any unforeseen ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in coming days, any marriages that take place with proper licensing are legal and binding. Whether gay couples can legally wed, at this point, appears to depend on which county they’re in.
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