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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 24 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 43
Marriage is our property! Straight couple alleges in suit
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Marriage is our property! Straight couple alleges in suit

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A straight Christian couple has filed a novel motion to intervene in the ACLU's marriage equality lawsuit in Kansas.

In their motion, Phillip W. Unruh and Sandra L. Unruh claim that they have a property right to the name of marriage, and that applying that name to a same-sex relationship amounts to theft.

'Plaintiffs are not content to behave as they wish or to find their own name for their relationship without taking the name Unruhs use for their relationship,' the couple says in their motion. 'The Unruhs do not want to share the marriage names and neither did 70% of the Kansans when they voted to pass the amendment [banning same-sex marriage], not because of who the Plaintiffs are but what marriage is...

'If the Plaintiffs are successful in their causes of action the meaning of marriage will be so fundamentally and profoundly changed that the Unruhs will experience a taking of their property rights in marriage without due process of law.'

Marie v. Moser, the ACLU suit in which the Unruhs want to intervene, involves two Lesbian couples who applied for, but were not granted, Kansas marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear pending appeals of marriage cases. The named defendants are Robert Moser, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the agency that records marriage licenses, and the two district court clerks who refused to issue the licenses to the plaintiffs.

The ACLU argues that two of the appellate court rulings that the Supreme Court let stand are the Tenth Circuit Court decisions which struck down Idaho and Utah bans on same-sex marriage. Since the Tenth Circuit also has jurisdiction in Kansas, the ACLU says, Kansas officials are now obligated to issue marriage licenses to the plaintiff couples and the federal court should order them to do so.

In addition to the ACLU suit, another federal lawsuit, Nelson v. Kansas Department of Revenue, is also pending. In that suit, two couples - Roberta and Julia Woodrick and Michael Nelson and Charles Dedmon - are suing to force the state of Kansas to recognize their out-of-state marriages for the purpose of filing joint state income tax returns.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in this case argue that the Supreme Court's decision to strike down DOMA in USA v. Windsor and the subsequent application of that ruling by the IRS requires married same-sex couples to file their tax returns as married. Therefore, they say, the Kansas law that refuses recognition to legal same-sex marriages requires the couples to file dishonest returns, and the plaintiffs seek a court order allowing them to file tax returns that correctly state their marital status.

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