Kansas now issuing gender-neutral marriage forms

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas has begun issuing gender-neutral marriage forms amid ongoing litigation over its same-sex marriage ban.

Copies of the new forms were included in a motion that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment filed Wednesday and amended Thursday, seeking to have former Secretary Robert Moser dismissed from the litigation.

The motion noted that Moser resigned effective Nov. 30, and also said new marriage forms have been created that are suitable for same-sex couples. Applicants now fill in information under the heading "Party A" or "Party B" and can select whether they want to be referred to as a bride, groom or spouse.

KDHE spokeswoman Sara Belfry said the forms were changed last month after the U.S. Supreme Court denied Kansas' request to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying while the state fights a lawsuit. Gay couples have married in some but not all of the state's 105 counties, and as of Thursday morning, the state had issued 23 marriage certificates to same-sex couples, Belfry said.

The American Civil Liberties Union initially sued on behalf of two lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses in Douglas County in northeast Kansas and Sedgwick County, home to Wichita in south-central Kansas. The ACLU later amended the suit to include claims that Kansas is refusing to recognize same-sex marriages for spousal health insurance benefits, state tax filing purposes and driver's license name changes.

Since the initial lawsuit was filed, Douglas and Sedgwick counties have started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and clerks in those counties sought Wednesday to be dismissed from the lawsuit. No action has been taken on the clerks' or Mosher's dismissal requests.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt also pursued and lost a separate case before the Kansas Supreme Court over a decision by a judge in Johnson County — the state's most populous — to grant gay marriage licenses. The Kansas court allowed gay marriages to go forward in that county but didn't make a definitive ruling about the rest of the state.

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