Archive for Wednesday, June 26, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay rights could affect Kansas

June 26, 2013

Decisions today by the U.S. Supreme Court in two major gay rights cases probably increase the likelihood that Kansas' constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage will be overturned at some point, a Kansas University constitutional law professor said.

In a 5-4 decision, the court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

The decision, according to Rick Levy, the J.B. Smith Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law at KU, "raises questions about the validity of the Kansas constitutional amendment."

In the Supreme Court ruling, the majority said that same-sex couples cannot be denied equal rights based on animus or disapproval.

In 2005, voters in Kansas by an overwhelming majority approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Levy said any change to the Kansas situation would take years.

"Someone has to apply to get married and get denied so that they have legal standing, then it would go to district court," he said.

He added, that the Supreme Court ruling in the DOMA case is "highly significant," calling it "another step down the road to saying same-sex couples have an equal right to marry."

In the other case, the Supreme Court kept in place a lower court decision that California's Proposition 8, which blocked gay marriage, was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court said those who challenged the lower court decision didn't have legal standing. The decision will allow the resumption of same-sex marriages in California.

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