November 4, 2014 / 9:58 PM / 4 years ago

Kansas ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional: judge

KANSAS CITY Kan. (Reuters) - Same-sex couples may soon be able to marry in Kansas following a federal judge’s ruling on Tuesday that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

John Lucas stands in front of a rainbow flag at the San Francisco Gay Pride Festival in California June 29, 2014. REUTERS/Noah Berger

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Crabtree granted a preliminary injunction stopping Kansas from enforcing its ban on gay marriage and put the ruling on hold until Nov. 11 to give Kansas an opportunity to appeal.

The decision, if upheld, would add to more than a dozen states where same-sex marriage has become legal since the U.S. Supreme Court said on Oct. 6 that it would not review recent U.S. appeals court decisions that struck down state bans.

Crabtree ruled that the Kansas ban violated the rights of gay couples to equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution.

The Kansas ban was expected to be overturned after the U.S. Supreme Court announcement. Kansas is in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which struck down bans in Oklahoma and Utah.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the state would ask the full 10th Circuit to hear an appeal of the ruling. The Utah and Oklahoma appeals were heard by a three-judge panel.

Crabtree said he was bound by the 10th Circuit decision and ruled that Kansas must allow gay couples to marry and recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples performed elsewhere.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas challenged the ban on behalf of two lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses in October.

“They are of course thrilled,” said Doug Bonney, chief counsel and legal director for ACLU of Kansas.

He said the lead plaintiffs, Kail Marie and Michelle Brown, recently celebrated their 21st anniversary together.

“Very soon, we hope, they can exercise the same right to marry that every straight couple in Kansas has been able to exercise,” Bonney said.

A judge in October ordered Johnson County, the most populous in Kansas, to grant gay couples marriage licenses, but the state Supreme Court blocked his ruling on Oct. 10.

Four dozen same-sex couples sought licenses and two women who obtained a license before the state supreme court order were married in front of the Johnson County courthouse.

The number of states in which same-sex marriages may be performed jumped to 32 from 19 after the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement.

Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis and Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Kansas; Editing by Jim Loney and Mohammad Zargham

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