Archive for Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Appeals court upholds same-sex marriage

June 25, 2014, 2:07 p.m. Updated June 25, 2014, 5:41 p.m.


In a case that could have a direct impact on Kansas, a federal appeals court in Denver ruled Wednesday that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a constitutional amendment enacted in Utah that bans same-sex marriage violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution's 14th amendment. But the court stayed its order pending a likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws," the court said. "A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union."

In 2004, voters in Utah approved a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman. It also says, "No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect."

The following year, Kansas adopted its own marriage amendment, with language substantially similar to Utah's.

Wednesday's decision was the first by a federal appeals court to uphold the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt said he would continue to defend the Kansas ban on same-sex marriage.

“We are aware of the panel’s decision,” Schmidt said in a statement released late Wednesday. “The Court has stayed its ruling pending

further litigation. It is clear this will not be the last word on the subject, and we will continue to meet our duty to defend against legal challenges to the provision Kansas voters included in the state constitution.”

The case involved three same-sex couples in Utah — one involving two men; the others involving two women each. Each couple had applied for a marriage license at the Salt Lake County Clerk's office, but they were denied because they intended to marry people of the same sex.

In a 65-page opinion that is sweeping in its language, the 10th Circuit said, "Nothing logically or physically precludes same-sex couples from marrying, as is amply demonstrated by the fact that many states now permit such marriages."

The 2-1 decision was written by Judges Carlos Lucero and Jerome Holmes. Judge Paul Kelly, Jr., dissented in part, saying states should reserve authority to define marriage themselves.

"If the States are the laboratories of democracy, requiring every state to recognize same-gender unions - contrary to the views of its electorate and representatives - turns the notion of a limited national government on its head," Kelly wrote.

Thomas Witt, chairman of Equality Kansas, the leading gay rights group in the state, praised the ruling, while acknowledging that the court's stay prevented for now same-sex marriage in Kansas.

"It would be nice to be able to race to the courthouse and get married right now, but that day is getting closer," Witt said. "If the 10th hadn't stayed their ruling, we probably would've seen same-sex couples going for marriage licenses this afternoon."

But Rev. Terry Fox, of Wichita, one of the leaders of the movement to put a same-sex marriage ban in the Kansas Constitution, said he was troubled by the court's decision.

"We're holding out hope that the Supreme Court will honor what the people have said," Fox said.

Voters in Kansas approved the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2005 by a 69 percent to 31 percent margin. Fox said he was confident that voters in Kansas would still approve such a ban by a similar margin.

He said the 10th Circuit's ruling "was a huge overreach." He said a Supreme Court decision outlawing same-sex marriage bans "would open door to polygamy."

The U.S. Supreme Court has not directly addressed the issue of state recognition of same-sex marriage.

Last year, in the case United States vs. Windsor, it struck down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions, even if they were legal in the state or country in which they were performed.

But that opinion did not address another provision of the federal law, which gives states the authority not to recognize such marriages.

Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who represents western Kansas, issued a statement condemning the decision.

“With this decision, two radical judges on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals have far exceeded their constitutional authority," Huelskamp said. "Contrary to a clear ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, these two lawyers invented a brand new constitutional ‘right’ and overruled the express opinion of nearly three million American voters and their elected representatives."


Lisa Rasor 3 years, 12 months ago

The majority should be able neither to convey nor to restrict rights by a vote. Rights should not be subject to the whims of majority opinion. That's why they're called "rights."

And "open the door to polygamy"? Give me a break. They used that same argument against allowing interracial marriages too, back in the day. None of the doom-saying then has come to pass, nor will it by allowing gay people to get married now. Sheesh.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 12 months ago

Seems obvious, Huelskamp is a religious nut, catering to his religious base. Lisa, the fanatics always bring out these outlandish what-ifs and why-nots. Less face it, there are always total nuts raising their stupid ideas.

Armen Kurdian 3 years, 12 months ago

No, there's no discriminatory statement in the definition of marriage between one man and one woman. It makes no reference to size, shape, color, or sexual preference. It sets the standard that has proven successful for thousands of years of human civilization. It does open the door to polygamy, group marriages, and on and on.

The human species was created with two genders for the purpose of procreation. And I'm tired of being called a 'religious zealot' because I strongly believe in traditional marrage.

Mari Aubuchon 3 years, 12 months ago

Well, go get yourself a traditional marriage then. Leave the non-traditional ones to those with differing beliefs. What makes you a zealot is not what you believe but forcing those beliefs on others.

Sarah Johnson 3 years, 12 months ago

An honest and sincere question for you, one that I hope you will answer. What does it matter to you, personally, if the state were to allow any two people to marry, regardless of sex? You may not see the point of it, you may certainly not want to enter into such a relationship yourself, but I just don't see how it affects you in any way, shape, or form.

And if it doesn't affect you and involves consenting adults who aren't hurting anyone, why fight against same-sex marriage?

Kevin Elliott 3 years, 12 months ago

There is much dishonest in your statement, and when you present lies to support your opinion, you are not actually promoting anything, just telling lies.

Marriage has been redefined many many times in the USA and around the world. It used to allow girls as young as 12, or 8 in some cultures to marry men of any age.

Marriage has allowed wife rape.

Marriage was a a business contract totally unrelated to love.

Marriage was not allowed between people of different races.

Marriage was a civil and not a religious activity until the 14th century.

Marriage once only allowed the man to divorce.

Marriage allowed no divorce.

I can go on and on, but that is enough to show that you are simply not honest.

Nor are you honest that marriage is strictly for procreation. Throughout time there have been billions and billions of marriages where no children were had. It is not a sex breeding contract no matter how bad you want it to be.\

It is time to change it again, and I do not give a rats behind if you like it.

The majority of those against it are people who claim to be Christian, but actually pick and choose what they justify by the Bible and do not behave Christlike. The Bible does warn of those people, false witness. A sign of the end of times. Perhaps you speak for the anti Christ and are a pretender, perhaps you do not even know it.

The fact is, this is the USA and we do not follow Sharia Law, Muslim Sharia Law, Jewish Sharia Law nor Judeo Christian Sharia law.

The time has come that my fellow Christians understand that they do not have the moral or legal right to force others through legislation to live as we believe they should.

There is no difference between a White Supremacist, a Black Supremacist, a Muslim Supremacist or a Judeo Christian Supremacist. They all fall into a singular category, egotistical bigots who feel the need to dominate others by force, to have legislative superiority over those they wish to discriminate against.

Each and every case, it is a mental disease, not a moral stance.

And as though I have not destroyed your fake arguments enough, there are many places where gay marriage has been legal for some time and not once has it created any sexual plurality of relationships, but at the end of the day, who the heck are you to tell other consenting adults how to live. You are not example, that is for sure.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 12 months ago

Best comment, ever! You got it right. Thank you so much.

Bob Forer 3 years, 11 months ago

Very good points Kevin. Thanks for enlightening me.

Caroline Elizabeth 3 years, 12 months ago

Kansas has been recognizing same sex marriages for some time now. I'm disappointed that the Journal World omitted that fact. Change is coming whether those in favor of "traditional marriage" want to accept that or not. Lucky for the "religious zealots" out there, granting marriage rights for same-sex couples has no effect on your marriage whatsoever.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 12 months ago

Kansas recognizes same sex marriages? I don't think so. Gays who have adopted and broken up do not have parental rights, because only one of them can adopt. Same sex couples can't file joint taxes.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 12 months ago

You know I have never lived with or been married to anyone and have always been perfectly happy with that so I guess that would give me the right to deny marriage to everyone.

Live and let live is my motto. You live your life your way and I will live my life my way. I wish love and happiness for all.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 12 months ago

How does any gay marriage affect any hetero-sexual marriage? Does anyone think their marriage is so weak that their spouse will suddenly take off and divorce them to marry a gay person? If so, what does that say about their marriage?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 12 months ago

Well, it is about time. This ruling should be upheld by SCOTUS without much problem. The problem will be with the bigots and prejudiced individuals who still use the "N" word without any hesitation, those folks will never change until they are dead. This will be a very good and proper thing, religious hatred and bigotry notwithstanding. A lot of perfectly honest and good American citizens will have the right to love who they want and the gay bashers will eventually die off.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 12 months ago

Even if it would lead to polygamy and group marriages, what does it matter? Although I have no idea why anyone would want to be in a group marriage, being married to one person is enough work. Same sex marriage is not a threat to anyone. Does Huelskamp really think his wife will leave him for another woman? Or that he will be forced to marry a man? If you are straight marry someone of the opposite sex. If you are gay find someone to happy with. Love and family is everything; it doesn't matter the make up of that family.

Caroline Elizabeth 3 years, 12 months ago

Kansas has granted multiple same sex divorces over the past year and at least one of them was in Lawrence. How is that not a step towards equality?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.