Government & Politics

Campaign is launched to oust Johnson County judge who cleared the way for same-sex marriage

Johnson County Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty issued an order for court clerks to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Johnson County Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty issued an order for court clerks to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The husband of a state senator has started a drive to oust a Johnson County judge who opened the door for marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples.

Brian Baumgardner of Louisburg on Friday morning announced the campaign to remove Johnson County Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty from office on Nov. 4.

Baumgardner is the husband of Republican Sen. Molly Baumgardner.

Moriarty issued an order directing the court clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand lower-court rulings striking down bans on gay marriage as unconstitutional.

The Kansas Supreme Court has since stepped in and stopped any licenses from being issued at the request of Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Nov. 6.

Critics said Moriarty didn’t have the authority to issue the administrative order since he was not asked to decide on a specific case challenging the Kansas constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage.

“Mr. Moriarty obviously believes his personal views supersede legal protocol, the will of the voters and the Kansas Constitution,” Brian Baumgardner said in a statement. “This most recent disregard for the Kansas Constitution is the final straw.”

In a separate interview, Baumgardner said he had an interest in the judge’s action even if he lives in Miami County, outside the judge’s jurisdiction.

“A bad judge harms everybody,” Baumgardner said. “I have watched this stinker for 20 years. He is a prime example of an activist judge with a super ego.”

Moriarty has been on the Johnson County bench since 2004, when he was appointed by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

In a recent interview with The Star, Moriarty said he believed the Supreme Court decision compelled him to issue his order.

He said he was not worried about being retained.

“A judge — any judge — can’t let that be the basis of their decision,” he said. “If we start making our decisions based solely upon whether or not we are retained, we are in trouble.”

To reach Brad Cooper, call 816-234-7724 or send email to bcooper@kcstar.com.

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