KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Gay couples across Kansas headed to county offices Thursday where judges were granting marriage licenses and waiving waiting periods after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for same-sex unions over the objections of the state's attorney general.
Despite a legal tangle involving the state Supreme Court, gay couples moved ahead with wedding plans as officials gave out marriage applications and others granted licenses. In one instance, a lesbian couple married in front of the courthouse in Manhattan, Kansas, home of Kansas State University.
"We got it!" Joleen Hickman said, according to The Manhattan Mercury, as she held up her marriage license.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said a separate challenge before the state Supreme Court should prevent gay marriage in all but the two counties that were home to cases covered in the ruling from the nation's capital. But as couples beyond those counties picked up marriage licenses Thursday, Schmidt's office did not issue a new statement or respond to questions about the latest developments.
The case in Kansas was filed after dozens of gay couples in a large suburban county on the Missouri border received marriage licenses last month. One couple was married and about 70 others received licenses before the attorney general's lawsuit in defense of the state's voter-approved gay marriage ban resulted in an order for officials there to stop.
As couples gained the right to marry in a handful of places including Wichita and Lawrence, those in Johnson County, where the legal tangle came to a head after a U.S. Supreme Court decision Oct. 5, were left to wait. Officials in that suburban Kansas City area said they would not move forward on the issue until the state Supreme Court ruled.
After the high court last month declined to hear cases from three federal appeals courts that had overturned gay marriage bans, several states moved to adopt the practice, and same-sex unions are now legal in 32 states.
In Kansas, couples were pleased to gain new rights Thursday.
"It feels pretty good," LuAnn Lewis, said, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal, after she picked up a license that would allow her to marry her partner of seven years Monday. "I didn't think that I'd live long enough to see it happen in this state. I'm glad I had the opportunity to come up here today."
Associated Press writers Roxana Hegeman in Wichita, Kan., and Mark Sherman in Washington contributed to this report.