AN OPEN LETTER TO ACLU ATTORNEYS IN CHARGE OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY

Dear _______ ,

We spoke with you in the fall when we were seriously considering the possibility of filing a case in federal court asking Kansas to recognize same sex marriages. You were adamant in your assertion that any such attempt was not to be encouraged. In fact you went so far as to say that an attempt would harm the national cause. You inferred that patience would be best for same sex couples in Kansas, that the efforts of ACLU would eventually have a positive impact on our need for marriage equality. You believed that the Federal judges in Kansas would not rule in favor of marriage equality.

Charles, my partner and spouse who had practiced in Federal court for two decades, believed that your assess- ment about the federal judges in Kansas was wrong. When we asked you what you had based your assumption on, your response did not seem to be based in knowledge you were willing to share, but was rather, it seemed to us, in the realm of conjecture. Both Lambda Legal and the ACLU expressed a desire to keep us from moving forward in demanding that our marriage be recognized by Kansas.

Now we have positive Oklahoma and Utah marriage equality cases in the tenth circuit. This does not square with the strategy of keeping these cases in more moderate jurisdictions. Do the assumptions about Kansas retain validity? We were deeply disappointed by the earlier ACLU response to our arguments. It seemed your goal was to make sure we kept quiet and behaved. Charles and I have supported the good work of the ACLU for years. Our recent experience gives us pause. We wish it were otherwise.

Are you willing to rethink your national strategy on marriage equality? We would very much like your help in a case we have filed with Kansas [Shawnee County District Court, Case No. 13 – C1465] to recognize the legitimacy of the marriages of same sex couples in Kansas in regards how to file state taxes. We understand that marriage equality presents a complex set of legal issues. We also know that LGTBQ people of Kansas are no less worthy of help from the ACLU than similar folk in Virginia.

The educational efforts you spoke of, as being the means the ACLU would help educate Kansans on marriage equality seems to have had little impact. Perhaps there are better ways to use your resources in our beloved state.

Sincerely,

Rev. Michael Nelson

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