Help needed in Kansas as marriage amendment pushes forward
The Rev. Terry Fox, middle, senior pastor of Wichita’s Immanuel Baptist Church, gives a thumbs-up to the Kansas House of Representatives after a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage passed Wednesday at the Statehouse in Topeka. Pat Bullock, left, is with the Heart of Kansas and Phillip “Bo” Graves, right, is senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Haysville. Kansans will vote on the measure on April 5.
I certainly don’t mind spreading the word for other states engaged, as we are here in NC, in a constitutional fight. It looksl ike Kansas is definitely under the gun…First, some background on the current state things. The Kansas House adopted a proposed amendment to the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. The vote was 86-3 — three more votes than the two-thirds majority needed. The amendment states that only married couples of one man and one woman would be entitled to the “rights or incidents” of marriage. The statewide vote is slated for April 5, with only a simple majority needed. Lawrence Journal-World):
“This is bigotry wrapped in a prayer,” Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray said. He and other opponents of the measure said it would embed discrimination into the state Constitution. Tiffany Muller, a gay-rights lobbyist and Topeka city councilwoman, denounced the proposal. “This is about actively hurting people in this state,” Muller said. She said opponents would fight the measure, but given the success of similar proposals in other states, she wasn’t optimistic. “We are going to have to rely on the courts to uphold our civil rights,” she said.
…But Irigonegaray said he was upbeat about the possibility of Kansas voters rejecting the amendment. “Our state has a rich history of equality. We came here for freedom,” he said.
But if the voters support the measure, some attorneys said it was ripe for a legal challenge. The first part of the amendment states that marriage is a contract between a man and a woman. The second part says that no relationship other than marriage is entitled to the rights of marriage.”It diminishes a class of people before government for no other reason than their sexual orientation. What about atheists; where do they rank here?” he said.
Some attorneys have said the amendment could restrict the rights of unmarried heterosexual couples or prevent private companies from offering insurance benefits to gay employees’ partners. Other gay people have said they fear the amendment could nullify their decision to grant power of attorney to their partners to make health care decisions.
“Part B is vague and ambiguous,” Irigonegaray said. Bill Rich, a constitutional law professor at Washburn University, said the second part of the amendment would prevent people in relationships other than marriage “from seeking legislation that would provide equal treatment. It’s almost certainly unconstitutional.”
House Blend reader Paul forwarded me this email from Richard Donner, of the Kansas Unity and Pride Alliance, which is woefully underpowered to lobby against this amendment push. He’s looking for help locally (and nationwide), so spreading the word is always a good thing.
[There is no Equality Kansas, BTW. There is reference to one that disbanded in ’97, when I Googled it.]
From: “Richard Donner”
Subject: RE: We need your HELP NOW. Kansas Constitutional Amendment
Hello to our brother and sister state wide organizations-As you know we lost the amendment battle in the Kansas House yesterday and now have less then three months to mount a campaign . We have little or no money, lots of passion, some people and groups who are willing to help and no campaign manger. What I (we) need from you NOW is-
1. Specific detailed media campaigns that have worked in the Midwest-especially media
2. Ideas to make a few short dollars go as long a way as possible
3. The name of anyone who is interested in and has experience in doing a short term issue campaign starting immediately.
4.Anything else you think that would help us.
5. Money !!! Seriously we need you all to help us raise money outside of Kansas- contact me for more specific information or check out our web site at www.kansasunityandpridealliance.org.
Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please help us in Kansas.
Richard Donner, PhD
Topeka, KS 66611
For those of you that think it’s enough to feel good about the fact that there are Blue states where progress is being made, I beg you to really hear the sense of purpose in the above email, despite the long odds faced.
Gay people live everywhere in this great nation. To say that it is sufficient to make “safe spaces” in a few states (MA, VT, possibly NY next) and the hell with the rest of the states is simply not good enough. We can’t let states like Kansas (or god forbid, NC) go without a fight.