- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The latest on gay marriage in Kansas. (All times local.)


3 p.m.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s chief spokeswoman says his recent executive order on same-sex marriage does not apply to local governments.

Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley issued a statement Thursday in response to criticism from a gay rights leader.

The order this week protects clergy, churches and religious groups that refuse to participate in same-sex weddings or provide goods, services or accommodations for them. The order says state agencies and political subdivisions shall not punish them for acting on their opposition to gay marriage.

Equality Kansas Executive Director Tom Witt said cities, counties, school districts and other local governments fall under the definition of political subdivisions. An American Civil Liberties Union attorney agreed.

But Hawley said the order applies only to agencies and subdivisions over which the governor has legal authority.


12:15 p.m.

The executive director of the leading gay rights group in Kansas is calling Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s recent executive order on same-sex marriage an “unconstitutional power grab.”

Tom Witt of Equality Kansas issued a lengthy statement Thursday criticizing the order Brownback issued to protect clergy, churches and religious groups from state sanctions for refusing to participate in same-sex weddings or provide goods, services or accommodations for them.

The order covers religious groups with state contracts to provide social services. Its definition of state government includes “political subdivisions.”

Witt said that language applies the order to cities, counties, school districts and other local governments. Witt said Brownback declared himself their “supreme ruler” and is allowing them to refuse to recognize legal same-sex marriages.

Brownback’s office did not immediately respond to Witt’s statement.


11:30 a.m.

Attorneys for Kansas officials say in a federal court filing that the state is allowing married same-sex couples to file joint income tax returns.

The disclosure of the policy change was made in a filing Thursday asking U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree to dismiss a lawsuit filed last year by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of gay and lesbian couples.

The ACLU challenged the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and the Department of Revenue’s refusal to allow same-sex couples to file joint tax returns.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month declared gay marriage legal across the nation.

The state’s lawyers submitted an affidavit from Department of Revenue policy director Richard Cram. He said the agency’s policy against joint tax returns for same-sex couples is no longer valid.


4 a.m.

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce says legislators should not pursue a new religious objections law following an executive order from Republican Gov. Sam Brownback protecting clergy and religious groups.

The influential business group issued a statement Wednesday saying that Brownback’s executive order is a sufficient response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation.

Kansas had banned gay marriage and refused to recognize such marriages from other states. Brownback said the high court ruling is a potential threat to religious liberties.

His order Tuesday told Kansas government agencies that they can’t punish ministers or religious groups for opposing same-sex marriage.

The chamber said it recommends against expanding the order’s scope or enacting a broader religious objections law because it worries about burdens on business.

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