Red Letter Day

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Media whoredom

Advocates of ban on same-sex marriage seek quick action

Because registration sucks, here is the article in full:

Advocates of ban on same-sex marriage seek quick action

Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. - Encouraged by public votes to ban same-sex marriage in other states, some clergy are pushing legislators to put a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution on the ballot quickly.

They already have the support of some lawmakers for a statewide vote April 5, when Kansas holds municipal and school board elections. But some legislators are skeptical they can move quickly enough - and opponents of a proposed amendment think they can block legislative approval, as they did last year.

Last year's defeat proved frustrating for backers of a proposed amendment because voters in 13 states - the first was neighboring Missouri - amended their constitutions.

The Kansas Legislature convenes Monday, and legislators who support the proposed amendment acknowledge they can't avoid another debate. Supporters of each side plan competing Statehouse rallies for the session's first day.

"We're going to keep it right in front of them," said the Rev. Terry Fox, senior pastor at Wichita's Immanuel Baptist Church and a leader of the push for an amendment.

Meanwhile, some gays and lesbians worry legislators will adopt a proposal also preventing Vermont-style civil unions or other legal recognition for their relationships - a proposal advocated by Fox and others.

"It really shows that this isn't about protecting marriage and it's about attacking gays and lesbians," said Mike Silverman, a 31-year-old computer software engineer from Lawrence.

If legislators want a statewide vote on April 5, they must adopt a proposal by Feb. 11, according to the secretary of state's office. Otherwise, an amendment would go to voters in 2006 to avoid a special election's cost of at least $2 million.

Lawmakers in at least nine states expect to consider proposed constitutional amendments on marriage, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Others include Colorado, Texas and Wisconsin.

"This is happening all across the country," said Matt Foreman, the task force's executive director.

And Vincent McCarthy, a senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, which supports banning same-sex marriage, said: "It's probably the hottest issue among legislatures throughout the United States."

Kansas law has defined marriage as only a union between one man and one woman since 1867. As recently as 2002, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled lawmakers can set such a policy.

Because of that state law, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and some legislators have questioned whether a constitutional amendment is necessary.

But Fox and others contend existing Kansas law isn't safe. They note that in December, a divided Kansas Supreme Court struck down the state's capital punishment law.

"I'm still not fully convinced that this is an activist court, but we certainly have seen indications that they have moved to the left," said Kansas House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, who supports an amendment.

Fox and others also argued that traditional marriages form strong families and underpin American society. Furthermore, they said, Kansans agree with the traditional definition and want to vote.

As for banning civil unions or other partnerships, such arrangements mirror marriage and Kansans don't want to protect the institution "in name only," said Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, who advocates such a proposal.

McCarthy said: "The ideal that we should be seeking to go for is that children should have a mother and a father."

But Sebelius said in a brief interview that if legislators feel the need for an amendment, it should mirror existing state law.

Silverman opposes an amendment because he hopes Kansas eventually will recognize civil unions.

Silverman and his partner, Dave Greenbaum, a 34-year-old computer consultant, had a wedding ceremony in an Omaha, Neb., synagogue in 1999, although Kansas does not recognize their union as legally valid. They went to Vermont two years later to obtain a civil union.

They said legal recognition of their relationship would address issues that tend to arise for gay and lesbian couples during crises, such as getting permission to visit a partner in the hospital or seeking time off for a death in a partner's family.

Silverman said he sees some irony in Kansas refusing to recognize his union when his Omaha congregation viewed him as married "in the eyes of God."

"No matter what happens with the Kansas Constitution, it's not going to change the fact that there are committed same-sex couples," he said.


Post a Comment

<< Home