By Bryan Lowry
Tribune News Service
TOPEKA -- The American Civil Liberties Union asked a court Monday to compel state officials to recognize same-sex marriages so same-sex couples can file taxes jointly, change their driver's licenses and, in the case of public employees, add their spouses to the state's health plan.
Last month, a federal judge struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, citing the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law. The decision allowed court clerks in Sedgwick and other counties to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
While Attorney General Derek Schmidt appeals the decision, state agencies such as the Kansas Department of Revenue have been instructed by the Brownback administration not to update their policies to recognize same-sex marriages.
For example, the Division of Vehicles, which is part of Revenue, will not allow people to change their last name on their driver's licenses to match their same-sex spouse's name.
Darci Bohnenblust, a systems specialist who works for Kansas State University, was informed by the university's human resources department that she could not add her wife, Joleen Hickman, as a dependent on her health plan because Kansas law does not recognize same-sex marriages, according to documents filed by the ACLU with the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.
The three officials named in the ACLU's motion are Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan; Lisa Kaspar, director of the Division of Vehicles; and Mike Michael, the director of the state employee health plan.
The governor's office would not comment on the filing.
Jennifer Rapp, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said in an e-mail, "The courts will continue to sort this out, and as they do the attorney general's office will continue to defend our clients and the Kansas Constitution."