Same-sex couples apply for marriage licenses in KS & WY, seeking resolution from SCOTUS action

After yesterday’s historic announcement from the Supreme Court that ultimately secured the freedom to marry in six states, including Utah and Oklahoma, same-sex couples and legal teams are committed to ensuring that the pro-marriage rulings that have been allowed to stand in the 10th and 4th Circuits are applied to all of the states within those geographic circuits. That’s why this week, same-sex couples in Wyoming and Kansas are taking action and working toward the freedom to marry in their states.

By denying review of Utah and Oklahoma’s marriage cases, SCOTUS allowed the 10th Circuit ruling striking down marriage bans in both states to stand. And because the 10th Circuit also has jurisdiction over Wyoming and Kansas, it should be only a matter of time – a matter of procedural follow-through - before these states also have the freedom to marry.

Dan & Wade • Kansas

Yesterday, Dan Barnes and Wade Honey applied for a marriage license in Kansas after hearing that the Supreme Court denied review of the 10 Circuit Court's ruling in favor of the freedom to marry. They drove to a town about an hour away from theirs to try to apply for a marriage license.

However, they were denied. "You can’t do that in the state of Kansas,” Nancy Escalante, supervisor for marriage licenses at the court, said. “Our application says ‘man and woman.’ The Legislature has not changed it.”

Although several couples have applied for marriage licenses, like Kerry Wilks and Donna Ditrani from Wichita, county clerks are still not granting the licenses.

Denying the freedom to marry is an incorrect interpretation of the 10th Circuit ruling, which applies to all of the states within the circuit, says Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas. “Our view is the law has already been overturned,” he said. “We’re not doing this to challenge the law. We’re doing this to get married.”

The American Civil Liberties Union has already announced that they intend to file a legal challenge ensuring that same-sex couples in Kansas have the freedom to marry.

Shelly & Brie • Wyoming

This morning, Shelly and Brie—a committed same-sex couple who call Wyoming home—went to the Laramie County Clerk to apply for a marriage license. The couple was denied, but the National Center for Lesbian Rights and other counsel will file an emergency motion on their behalf asking the Laramie County Clerk rule immediately as to when clerks can begin issuing licenses to Wyoming’s same-sex couples.

There is simply no legal defense to denying marriage to same-sex couples. In the wake of yesterday’s announcement, Colorado’s Republican Attorney General John Suthers—whose state also falls under the 10th Circuit—said exactly that, as he ordered clerks in all 64 counties across the state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Despite Governor Matt Mead’s statement yesterday that the 10th Circuit’s ruling has no bearing on the legal challenge to Wyoming’s marriage ban, we know the law is on our side.

We’re incredibly grateful to Shelly and Brie – and couples like Dan and Wade - for taking a courageous stand this week.. We will continue to work day in and day out until their relationship and thousands of others are finally respected in Wyoming, in Kansas – and nationwide.