Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Anti-civil union amendment steamrolled through Kansas legislature

The Kansas Senate quickly passed a proposed amendment to the state constitution by a 28-11 margin last Thursday. Under pressure from the Christian right, the Senate dispensed with the messy processes of deliberative democracy. No need for committee hearings despite the fact that there are many new members of both the Senate and House.

Proponents of the amendment and the news media describe it as an "anti-gay marriage" amendment, but it is really much broader. Supposedly, the purpose of the amendment is to prevent activist judges from invalidating the state law which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. But the amendment, goes further. It bans civil unions or anything that looks, tastes, smells, or sounds like marriage.

"S 16. Marriage. (a) The marriage contract is to be considered in law as a civil contract. Marriage shall be constituted by one man and one woman only. All other marriages are declared to be contrary to the public policy of this state and are void.

" (b) No relationship, other than a marriage, shall be recognized by the state as entitling the parties to the rights or incidents of marriage."

On Sunday January 16, the Wichita Eagle released a poll of Kansas residents.

Only 47% percent said the Kansas legislature should reconsider an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. 46 percent said the legislature should not.

While 71 percent disapprove of same-sex marriages, there were different results when asked what rights same-sex couples should have for legal recognition of their unions, things were different
No recognition 53%
Marriage 13%
Civil unions 31%
I thought it might be interesting to see how Kansas compares to national polls. Back in March 2004, a Gallup poll found that 33 percent favored gay marriage, slightly more than the 24 percent of Kansan's who said they approve of gay marriage.

The same poll showed that a 54-42 split in favor of civil unions. The Kansas poll indicates a 44-53 split. So it appears that Kansas is about 10 percent more conservative than the nation on this question.

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