In re Estate of Gardiner

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In re Estate of Gardiner
Seal of the Supreme Court of Kansas
Court Supreme Court of Kansas
Full case name In the Matter of the Estate of Marshall G. Gardiner, Deceased
Decided March 15, 2002 (2002-03-15)
Citation(s) 42 P.3d 120 (Kan. 2002); 273 Kan. 191 (2002); 2002 Kan. LEXIS 117
"A post-operative male-to-female transsexual is not a woman within the meaning of the statutes and cannot validly marry another man."[1]
Court membership
Chief Judge Kay McFarland
Associate Judges Robert E. Davis, Donald L. Allegrucci, Bob Abbott, Frederick N. Six, Tyler C. Lockett, Edward Larson, Timothy Brazil (assigned to participate)
Case opinions
Decision by Donald L. Allegrucci
Robert E. Davis took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

In re Estate of Gardiner, 42 P.3d 120 (Kan. 2002), is a case in which the Kansas Supreme Court voided the marriage of a man and a trans woman, holding that the latter was considered male under Kansas law, and thus the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage precluded the legal validity of the marriage.[2][3][4]

J'Noel Ball married Marshall G. Gardiner in Oskaloosa, Jefferson County, Kansas in September 1998. Marshall, who had previously twice served in the Kansas House of Representatives,[5] died in August of the following year, without having left a will. Marshall's son, Joe, challenged the disposition of the $2.5 million estate, arguing that J'Noel was legally male and therefore that the marriage was invalid. The district court agreed with the son, at appeal, the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed the district court, and the Supreme Court reversed the appellate court in part and affirmed the district court.[6][7][8] The Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari on October 7, 2002.[9]

The ruling has also been described as "de-sex"ing transgender people, based on the court statement that the "words 'sex,' 'marriage,' 'male,' and 'female' in everyday understanding do not encompass transsexuals."[10]

Because J'Noel was born in Wisconsin, and the laws of that state allowed her to change the sex on her birth certificate, the ruling has been criticized for as violating the full faith and credit clause of the United States Constitution.[11]


  1. ^ "85030 -- In re Estate of Gardiner". Kansas Supreme Court. March 15, 2002. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Strasser, Mark (2003). "Harvesting the Fruits of Gardiner: On Marriage, Public Policy, and Fundamental Interests". George Washington Law Review. 71: 179. SSRN 439524Freely accessible. 
  3. ^ Oliphant, Robert E.; Steegh, Nancy Ver (2007-03-07). Examples & Explanations: Family Law, 2nd Ed. Aspen Publishers Online. pp. 45–. ISBN 9780735562899. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Link, David (March 22, 2002). "Same-sex marriage, with a twist". Salon. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Spurgeon, Devon (July 7, 2000). "Double Bind: Why a Woman in Missouri Is a Man in Kansas, and Why It Matters". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Lamoy, Annie; Stacy Downs (March 15, 2002). "Kansas Supreme Court rules against transsexual (subscription required)". Knight Ridder / Tribune News Service. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  7. ^ Norgren, Jill; Norgren, Serena Nanda, Jill (2006-07-30). American Cultural Pluralism And Law. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 200–. ISBN 9780275986995. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Myers, Gordon Brown, Scott; Myers, Scott (2008-06-16). Administration of Wills, Trusts, and Estate. Cengage Learning. pp. 85–. ISBN 9781428321762. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Gardiner v. Gardiner, 537 U.S. 825 (2002).
  10. ^ Currah, Paisley; Juang, Richard M.; Minter, Shannon Price (2006). Transgender Rights. U of Minnesota Press. pp. 37–. ISBN 9780816643127. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  11. ^ Gebhardt, Shawn (2009). "Full Faith and Credit for Status Records: A Reconsideration of Gardiner". California Law Review. 97: 1419–. 

12 Although Marshall and J'Noel Gardiner were humanists, the Kansas Supreme Court, all Christian, ruled that as she was incapable of bearing a child, she was not a full woman

13As a result of the ruling, the administration of Professor Gardiner's employer, Park University, dismissed her after nine years of service. She filed a Missouri EEO claim for religious discrimination and investigator, Mary Shepard, told her since she, Gardiner was white, she had not claim. When Gardiner insisted it was a religious claim, Shepard changed the gender in her report to "he." 14Gardiner's US Passport, civilian military I.D., Wisconsin birth certificate, and other legal forms were disregarded by the Kansas courts and when J'Noel Gardiner traveled to other theocratic countries and states within the United States, fears arrest at immigration points, using public restrooms, etc. 14J'Noel Gardiner took her life in 2014 leaving a note saying she the Kansas courts and Park University destroyed her professionally and personally.

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