Kansas Supreme Court blocks gay marriage licenses

? Hours after Kansas’ most populous county issued a same-sex marriage license to a couple who quickly wed, the state Supreme Court on Friday blocked the granting of any more such licenses.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn a ban on gay marriage in the Kansas Constitution.

Kansas voters approved the constitutional ban, 70-30 percent, in 2005, but the state appears to face an uphill legal battle in preserving it following the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal Monday to hear appeals from five other states seeking to save theirs.

That development led Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty to direct other judges and court clerks in Johnson County to approve marriage licenses for gay couples. The court clerk’s office granted what’s believed to be the first — and only — such license Friday morning. Hours later, Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed a petition with Kansas’ highest court, asking it to immediately block the issuance of other licenses.

The state Supreme Court cited federal court rulings against gay marriage bans in its brief order but blocked Moriarty’s order in Johnson County, “in the interest of establishing statewide consistency.” It set a hearing for Nov. 6 and said it would consider whether the state’s ban on gay marriage is permissible under the U.S. Constitution.

The Johnson County newlyweds, Kelli and Angela, asked to be identified only by their first names to help protect their privacy, but did agree to allow a photograph of them after the ceremony to be used. In a statement released through the gay-rights group Equality Kansas, they said they wanted to celebrate privately.

Wedding plans for gay couples across Kansas were in limbo, with nearly all of the state’s 105 counties refusing to issue marriage licenses. In Riley County in northeast Kansas, a couple whose application for a marriage license was accepted Thursday learned Friday that a judge had denied it.