Riley County issues first gay marriage licenses


On Wednesday, Kansas became the 33rd state to allow gay marriage, and one couple arrived at the courthouse at 8:30 a.m. Thursday to exercise that right and hold their ceremony. Joleen Hickman and Darci Bohnenblust applied for their license on Oct. 9., though the ceremony was delayed while the county courthouse waited for approval from the 10th Circuit Court judge. They were pronounced wife and wife at 10 a.m., when the courthouse bells began to ring.

Anne Rubash, LGBT Resource Center client manager for the K-State Division of Communications and Marketing, could not provide a public statement and would not comment on the ruling, but students seemed joyful.

“Personally, I think it’s pretty nice to see that it’s here in Kansas,” Caleb Deines, freshman in marketing, said. “I thought it would take much longer to get here. To know it passed so quickly warms my heart.”

Gov. Sam Brownback publicly opposed the bill last Saturday at a rally at the Summit Church in Wichita. It did not affect the ruling that a Johnson County judge ruled to allow the issuance of licenses earlier this month. A typical waiting period for a marriage license is three days, which is kept on file for a year after their application. The couple has been the only same-sex couple to apply for a license in Riley County.

The LGBTQ and Allies Club agreed that the ruling meant good things for their members’ futures.

“I’m from Chicago, so I’m very liberal,” Alaina Littlejohn, junior in animal sciences and industry and vice president of the club, said. “It’s weird to go home and think the LGBT community was so supported. I thought honestly Kansas would be last. Now I don’t have to move home to marry someone. I can stay in my new state that I now call home.”

Chief Judge Meryl Wilson, who approved the administrative order, said he can’t “pick and choose” the civil ceremonies that he would perform as a judge.

“I believe that if I do any marriages that I have an obligation to do a marriage for anyone who has a valid license,” Wilson said. “Each judge will have the right to make their own choices, but it seems to me that if I’m going to do any marriages, saying ‘I’m not going to do a same-sex marriage’ wouldn’t be right.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to attribute a statement made by K-State’s Division of Communications and Marketing.