In 2005 Kansans approved—by seventy percent—the Kansas Proposed Amendment which changed the constitution to ban the performance of gay marriages or civil unions. The amendment states: (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.
Kansas joins many other states across the country that already prohibited gay marriage prior to amending the state constitution. Kansans deemed it necessary, or maybe just a good measure, to “insulate” said anti-gay marriage law from legal challenge by adding it to the Kansas Constitution. Apparently, most voters were not concerned with public commentary regarding unexpected consequences like companies denying healthcare benefits to employee’s partners regardless of their sexual orientation. Kansas became the eighteenth state with this type of ban in its constitution.
In case banning already illegal gay marriage and all other unions was not enough, the voters responsible for the 2-to-1 margin–that effectively banned gay marriage and civil unions–also “ousted the lone gay city council member in Topeka, Tiffany Muller, who had defeated an emphatically anti-gay opponent in the primary.”
Where there is a gay marriage ban in the works, the Knights of Columbus are usually close behind and Kansas was no exception. The largest Roman Catholic lay organization in the country donated $100,000 to supporters of the Kansas amendment; this generous donation gave proponents a 4-to-1 fund-raising advantage.
Thomas Witt, chairman of the Kansas Equality Coalition, explains that the coalition’s predecessor, Kansans for Fairness, was born out of rejection of the proposed gay marriage ban. The group’s mission is “ending discrimination based on sexual preference” and it seems that resistance was indeed necessary. At the time, extremists like Reverend Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, were gaining momentum against non-heterosexuality in all its forms. The reverend began protesting at the funerals of soldiers killed in combat in Iraq because he felt that they stood for and supported an army and country that tolerates homosexuality. The push and pull of political opinions has at least drawn people out and motivated them to speak up and even take action in some cases. Mr. Lantz, a 28-year-old gay man, is one of those individuals who have been driven to action. Throughout his early years and up through college he says he “spent a lot of time trying to get out of being gay,” but within eighteen months (starting in 2005 when the ban was voted on) he has managed to come out to family and friends and become an (much needed) involved gay activist in Kansas.
- Can same-sex couples marry in Kansas?
- Can same-sex couples enter into civil unions? No.
- Are legal relationships between same-sex couples recognized by the state? No.