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Marriage Equality

Kansas Gov., ACLU Up Ante on Both Sides of Marriage Fight

Kansas Gov., ACLU Up Ante on Both Sides of Marriage Fight

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The ACLU attorney representing same-sex couples who sued for marriage rights is amending the lawsuit to increase the impact of marriage equality in Kansas.

The attorney who sued Kansas to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage is amending the lawsuit to force the state to recognize these unions.

Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled for marriage equality in the state, and same-sex marriages began after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a temporary stay of that decision. But Gov. Sam Brownback intends to fight every aspect of marriage equality with all the resource availables, and last week he announced that the state would not recognize these marriages until what he considers "ambiguity" surrounding marriage law is cleared up.

"They've now made it absolutely clear ... they're going to fight for every inch of ground, they're going to make us fight for every inch of ground on this," Doug Bonney, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Kansas, told The Wichita Eagle. "And there's no chance they're going to concede defeat on this."

Bonney plans to amend the lawsuit to include provisions to allow same-sex married couples to receive spousal employee benefits and change names on driver's licenses, the Eagle reports.

LGBT rights advocates have expressed frustration with the state's efforts to block marriage equality. "It's an outrage that every federal court up to the Supreme Court has turned away the state's appeals and requests for stays, and yet Governor Brownback and Attorney General [Derek] Schmidt keep acting as though they have a chance of winning," Equality Kansas executive director Thomas Witt told Wichita TV station KAKE.

The state is appealing the federal district court ruling that struck down the marriage ban, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which includes Kansas, has ruled for marriage equality in cases from other states, so it is unlikely to reverse the district court's ruling. Also, Schmidt contends the district court ruling applies only to the two counties whose clerks were named as defendants in the ACLU's suit, so some counties in the state have been reluctant to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. According to Equality Kansas's Facebook page, 25 of the state's 105 counties are currently licensing same-sex marriage.

Bonney says his legal team is still working out how to amend the suit to assure that same-sex couples receive all rights and benefits associated with marriage, according to the Associated Press.

"We're trying to figure out who we sue, including possibly the governor," Bonney told the AP. "We're very concerned about the state's refusal to recognize marriages both performed in state and out of state, so we definitely will seek to amend our complaint to add these claims, because this can't go on."

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