KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge Monday to stop officials in Kansas from prohibiting same-sex marriages and denying gay couples benefits offered to opposite-sex married couples.
The ACLU said in its request for a preliminary injunction that the case is “overwhelmingly likely to succeed” and that its clients are “suffering significant and irreparable harm every day that Kansas refuses to recognize the marriages.”
The initial ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of two couples who were denied licenses in two Kansas counties, and later was amended to add three more couples whose marriages were not recognized by state agencies.
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked Kansas last month from enforcing its marriage ban while the lawsuit proceeds in federal court. Since then, same-sex couples have been married in some but not all of the state’s 105 counties.
The ACLU’s motion notes that the state isn’t recognizing same-sex marriages for spousal health insurance benefits, state tax-filing purposes and driver’s license name changes.
Attorney General Derek Schmidt has said in the past that his vigorous defense of the state’s gay marriage ban is designed to get a final decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. Jennifer Rapp, the spokeswoman for the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment Monday.
Schmidt pursued and lost a separate case before the Kansas Supreme Court over a decision by a judge in Johnson County – the state’s most populous – to grant gay marriage licenses. The Kansas court allowed gay marriages to go forward in that county but didn’t make a definitive ruling about the rest of the state.
Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration has said that it will not make any policy changes to recognize same-sex couples while it defends the Kansas gay marriage ban.
Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
The ACLU suit names Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser; the Kansas Department of Revenue and its Division of Vehicles; and KDHE’s director of the state employee health plan.