Westboro Baptist Church seeks to defend Kansas same-sex marriage ban
TOPEKA, Kan. — The Westboro Baptist Church, home of the anti-gay extremists behind the “Gods Hate Fags” demonstrations, is seeking to intervene as defendants in a federal lawsuit challenging Kansas’ ban on same-sex marriage.
The motion, filed Sunday, comes just days after the judge in the case rejected a similar attempt by a rural Kansas couple who also sought to join the lawsuit, claiming they would suffer “profound harm” by “the extension of marriage to same sex relationships.”
In its filing, Westboro argues that Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, whose office has been arguing against lifting the state’s constitutional ban, cannot adequately represent the organization in the lawsuit, reports the Topeka Capital Journal.
“The Kansas Attorney General (representing all defendants) is unable to adequately represent WBC because of the political pressure that flows from widespread disagreement with WBC and her ministry and religious message,” the motion says.
The motion also makes statements in opposition to same-sex marriage similar to those that the church has made in the past, warning that same-sex marriage would destroy Kansas:
“WBC desires to assert that it is constitutional folly to suggest that a sinful-based behavior union should be a union that is afforded civil rights and granted the imprimatur of respectability by a license from the government; and that in doing so the government violates its duty of religious neutrality; and puts itself in the position of imposing sin on the citizens, to the great detriment and harm of the health and welfare of the citizenry.”
The ACLU filed the lawsuit earlier this month on behalf of couples in Wichita and Lecompton, Kan., after they were denied marriage licenses. Also named is the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which provides license forms and maintains copies of marriage certificates.
Previously, there was no state or federal court lawsuit over Kansas’ ban.
But after the U.S. Supreme Court on October 6 declined to hear appeals from five states seeking to preserve gay marriage bans, including Oklahoma and Utah, which are in the same federal appeals court circuit as Kansas, a judge in Johnson County, the state’s most populous county, ordered licenses to be issued to same-sex couples. Two women obtained one and quickly wed on October 10.
The ACLU is seeking a federal court order to allowing same-sex marriages to resume statewide. The group says Kansas is bound by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down the Utah and Oklahoma bans.Kansas is the only state under the 10th Circuit’s jurisdiction still enforcing its same-sex marriage ban.
The Wesboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, is not affiliated with the Baptist denomination or any other Baptist church, and has actively fought against gays and gay rights since at least 1991. In 2011, the church stated that it had about 40 members, which consists almost entirely of members of founder Fred Phelps’ extended family. Phelps died in March.
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