Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Couple Seeks to Defend State's Ban ; Harper Husband, Wife File Motion Claiming Same-Sex Marriages Would Injure Their Rights

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Couple Seeks to Defend State's Ban ; Harper Husband, Wife File Motion Claiming Same-Sex Marriages Would Injure Their Rights

Article excerpt

Phillip and Sandra Unruh are very clear: Same-sex marriage in Kansas would violate their property rights.

The couple, who lives in the small town of Harper southwest of Wichita, has filed a motion to intervene as defendants in an ACLU lawsuit seeking to allow same-sex marriages in the state. The couple argues in a filing prepared by Phillip Unruh, an attorney, that same- sex marriage would rob them of their property rights by devaluing their marriage.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this month declining to hear challenges to state same-sex marriage bans set off a chain reaction of legal maneuvering that has legalized same-sex marriage in several states, but so far not in Kansas.

The filing from Unruh argues that if same-sex marriage becomes legal, the meaning of marriage will be fundamentally altered and that the couple's property rights will be taken away. In the filing, the Unruhs argue that their marriage should be viewed as a kind of property, which would be altered by same-sex marriage.

Kansas adopted a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2005. The ban passed with 70 percent of the vote.

Unruh's filing contends that the principles "of equality regarding the marriage relationship and the same-sex marriage relationship do not apply as the two relationships differ as apples and oranges."

"The extension of marriage to same-sex relationships inflicts profound harm on the Unruhs. For the courts to say that from this day forward marriage in Kansas must be extended to a same-sex couple is and for ever will be deeply disturbing to the Unruhs and undoubtedly to those that cared enough to pass an amendment to protect it, a departure from the joy and celebration normally associated with the word marriage," the filing says.

Doug Bonney, chief counsel and legal director for the ACLU of Kansas, dismissed the argument.

"The 10th Circuit has already rejected the arguments that same- sex marriage bans can be justified based on a desire to preserve so- called 'traditional marriage. …

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