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Despite Victories, Kansas Counties Lag on Marriage Equality

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We picked up three states with marriage this week. But in one of those states, some clerks are refusing to issue licenses. Alabama’s attorneys are using a discredited anti-gay researcher to build a case for banning marriage. And we have more bad news for what’s left of the National Organization for Marriage.

We’ve added two or maybe three states to the marriage equality map this week: Montana, South Carolina, and sort of Kansas. Let’s start with Montana, where a District Court Judge ordered the state to start issuing marriage licenses this week. Montana is the last state in the Ninth Circuit to get the freedom to marry. Attorney General Tim Fox will appeal the ruling, but he’s not seeking a stay, probably because he knows there’s no point, since the Ninth Circuit will definitely uphold this decision, and the Supreme Court won’t review it. Marriage is here to stay in Montana.

And marriages have also started in South Carolina. That’s the last state in the Fourth Circuit to get marriage. Attorney General Alan Wilson had asked the Supreme Court to block marriage, pending an appeal, but they declined. Wilson’s appeal will still go to the Fourth Circuit, but they’ve already overturned marriage bans in neighboring states, so just like in Montana, marriage is there to stay.

Now on to Kansas. This is a tricky one. A District Court judge struck down the state’s ban, and the stay on the ruling expired at the end of last week. Some counties have started issuing marriage licenses. But others haven’t. And state agencies are refusing to honor the licenses that have been issued, since Governor Brownback is appealing the decision. Kansas is in the Tenth Circuit, where the every other court has overturned marriage bans, so they have virtually no chance of stopping marriage. Governor Brownback will lose his appeal, it’s just hard to say when.

A lawsuit in South Dakota is moving ahead. A federal judge there rejected the state’s claim that the 1972 case Baker v. Nelson prevents a federal ruling. Just a few weeks ago, the Sixth Circuit cited Baker as justification for upholding a marriage ban, so it’s a promising sign that the South Dakota judge rejected that argument.

Florida attorney general Pam Bondi has filed appeals in multiple cases to try to stop marriage. Her chances of prevailing are not great. But for now, marriage is still on hold in Florida. In Louisiana, gay couples have asked to skip the Fifth Circuit and go right to the Supreme Court for a ruling. And over in Alabama, the state has cited the work of Mark Regnerus in its latest brief. Regnerus is the author of a discredited study on gay parenting, which a federal Judge in Michigan called “entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration.” So, good luck with that, Alabama.

And finally, the National Organization for Marriage is not doing well. New tax filings show donations dropped over 50% in 2013, with the group ending the year $2.5 million in debt. NOM has faced large fines over the last year due to campaign finance violations, and donations have dropped sharply since the organization really hasn’t had a major victory in several years.

21 Comments

  • 1. SWB1987  |  November 24, 2014 at 8:21 am

    I hope Brian Brown didn't quit his day job… Oh wait… I also wouldn't be surprised if he gets caught with a male sex worker and some meth at some point

  • 2. DACiowan  |  November 24, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Because of Kansas, the Wikipedia map talk page is a fistfight right now.

  • 3. guitaristbl  |  November 24, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Just put Browback's ugly face on top of Kansas on the map with a logo saying "He fails to comply with the law". And some vivid, flamboyant colour over him and the state. Because this kind of stupidity and bigotry has to have a colour of its own.

  • 4. DACiowan  |  November 24, 2014 at 9:52 am

    So the plaintiffs in Texas just filed to have their stay lifted: Texas For Marriage post and then Here is the filing. Even if the Fifth somehow didn't immediately restore the stay, the Supreme Court judge overseeing the Fifth is — gulp — Scalia. Since the arguments are scheduled, I could see the full court confirming the stay this time around.

    So this doesn't look to have a snowball's chance in a Texas summer unfortunately, but how much fun would a rush to the altar in Texas be? You thought Kansas was a mess with 105 counties? Texas has 254, including one with seventy people.

  • 5. Randolph_Finder  |  November 24, 2014 at 10:17 am

    It will be sort of like Utah, just because the entire State has given up, doesn't mean that a SSM has occured in all of the counties. I remember the last county to give in was last because the one person who gives out marriage licenses in the county was on Vacation!

  • 6. guitaristbl  |  November 24, 2014 at 10:24 am

    And if I remember correctly they said that they issued about 3 or 4 licenses a year in that county. So yeah testing whether such counties would issue marriage licenses to same sex couples would take a long time I think, if any same sex couples who want to marry live there even 😛

  • 7. Randolph_Finder  |  November 24, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Yup. And the area is so heavily LDS that most of the people who do live in the county and get married are likely to go up to Provo to get their marriage License so they can get sealed in the Temple.

    On the bright side, the county is so small that if the person with that position *does* turn down someone, by the time the legal bills are figured out, the HRC will own the county. :)

  • 8. Dr. Z  |  November 24, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I suggest paisley instead of stripes.

  • 9. Zack12  |  November 24, 2014 at 11:02 am

    That jerk's ugly mug doesn't need to be on anything.

  • 10. flyerguy77  |  November 24, 2014 at 11:18 am

    be honest i think Brian Brown is a deeep closeted case…

  • 11. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  November 24, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Holy crap…you weren't kidding

  • 12. Mike_Baltimore  |  November 24, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Are you thinking of appropriately named Loving County?

    The 2013 population estimate was 95 (the county is growing!!! – the 2010 census found 82 people. Where will they put all the 'new' people???).

    Since more than 27% are under 18, and about 9.5% are 65 and older, that would leave about 63% in the 'marrying age' group of 18 and older and younger than 65, or a bit under 60 people.

    Looks like your 70 people might be a bit generous, if all we are counting are 'eligible' (age wise) people.

  • 13. RnL2008  |  November 24, 2014 at 11:32 am

    I think most of the anti-gay folks are closeted……have ya seen Michelle Bauchman's husband?

  • 14. RnL2008  |  November 24, 2014 at 11:33 am

    I agree with ya Zack!!!

  • 15. RobW303  |  November 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Stripes on Brownback? Don't they use bright orange these days? (A man can dream.)

  • 16. Zack12  |  November 24, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Some of them, but many of them are simply religious control freaks who can't stand to see their power lessen.

  • 17. Dr. Z  |  November 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Brown stripes for the map, and an orange jumpsuit for Brownback.

  • 18. Swifty819  |  November 24, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    What I would give for the fistfight to end….I've written paragraphs over there!

  • 19. RQO  |  November 24, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    "Bleeding Kansas"; remember the Civil War was fought there first in the 1850's.

  • 20. weshlovrcm  |  November 24, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    My question is why would anyone believe NOM's tax filings?

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