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Setback for same-sex marriage in Kansas: Justice Sotomayor stays order

Setback for same-sex marriage in Kansas: Justice Sotomayor stays order
Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, the state's leading gay rights group, rallies support in February. (John Hanna / Associated Press)

The day before Kansas was to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a stay that temporarily prevents the state from doing so.

Last Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued an injunction barring Kansas from enforcing its ban on same-sex marriage. To give the Kansas Department of Health time to appeal, the order was scheduled to take effect a week later.

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Sotomayor's stay in essence freezes the situation, giving advocates of same-sex marriage until Tuesday to file a response. The Supreme Court justices might then discuss the case when they meet Friday.

The high court has long resisted ruling on same-sex marriage. Last month it refused to weigh in on cases from five states where judges had struck down bans on gay marriage, commenting that because all the lower courts agreed, there was no need for it to intervene.

However, on Thursday, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld bans on same-sex marriage in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee -- the first time a federal appeals court has done so. That could spur the Supreme Court to take a stance.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the Kansas suit in October on behalf of a pair of same-sex couples whose applications for marriage licenses were rejected.

Currently, more than 30 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry.

Times staff writers James Queally and David G. Savage contributed to this report.

For more news, follow @raablauren on Twitter.

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