Category Archives: Gay marriage

‘Religious freedom’ bill likely to be back

gayweddingcakeGiven that a recent federal appeals court ruling puts Kansas’ same-sex marriage ban in jeopardy, it’s not surprising that some are planning another push next legislative session to pass a “religious freedom” law. The Kansas House passed a bill this past session that would grant additional legal protections to those who don’t want to accommodate same-sex couples for religious reasons. But the bill immediately died in the Senate after opposition from the business community, gay rights groups and others who said the bill sought to legalize discrimination. “We are not going to let it die. We are very committed,” Wichita pastor Terry Fox told Associated Press. Thomas Witt of Wichita, executive director of Equality Kansas, also expects the issue to resurface next session. “I don’t think they’re going to stop their attacks,” he said.

Huelskamp to husbands: ‘Love your family’

huelskamp,timRep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, made an emotional speech Thursday at the March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. Standing with his family and addressing “every husband in America,” Huelskamp said: “Your children need you. Your woman, your wife, she needs you. It’s time that you become a real man and stand up for those who need you. Love your family, love your wife, love your children because they desperately need you. They’re desperately looking for a husband. They’re desperately looking for a father. Be a real man of God, because this is about you. Marriage is about you, and your wife, and your children.” But critics noted that Huelskamp doesn’t believe “marriage is about you” if you are gay, despite public opinion moving toward extending marriage equality to same-sex couples. According to the Pew Research Center, opposition to same-sex marriage has dropped from 54 to 39 percent in just five years.

So they said

dolemug“Well, I’m from the old school where I thought marriage was between a man and a woman. But again, I’m a tolerant person, so I’ll go along with the flow.” – former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole (in photo), telling Politico he isn’t troubled by how the nation is changing regarding same-sex marriage

“Kansas has three great things going for it. First of all, it has a great governor – we all agree with that. Secondly, it has a great tax policy. And thirdly and most important, Missouri has an idiot for a governor.” – Rex Sinquefield, Missouri political donor and retired investment executive, speaking recently at a Heritage Foundation forum in Washington, D.C.

“Sometimes the best legislation that we get done is the legislation that we don’t get passed.” – Sen. Jeff Longbine, R-Emporia, about the defeat of a bill to eliminate conservation easements

Time likely running out on Kansas’ gay-marriage ban

gayweddingcakeWhat is most striking about all the recent court decisions striking down state bans on gay marriage is the diversity of judges and states. Since last June, 13 judges in red and blue states have either overturned bans on gay marriage or ordered states to recognize gay marriages from other states, the Sunday Eagle reported. Opponents of gay marriage have tried to blame these decisions on “activist judges.” But as Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, noted, “judges of all backgrounds and political affiliations are striking down these state-level bans.” It’s likely only a matter of time before Kansas’ ban is struck down, too.

Kassebaum Baker offered support for same-sex marriage

kassebaumThe 20 Republicans who signed a friend of the court brief in support of legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah and Oklahoma included former Kansas Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker (in photo). “It is precisely because marriage is so important in producing and protecting strong and stable family structures that (we) do not agree that the government can rationally promote the goal of strengthening families by denying civil marriage to same-sex couples,” argued the group, led by Kassebaum Baker and former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson. The group referred to President Reagan’s belief that the Republican Party must be a “big tent” and quoted Barry Goldwater’s statement that “we don’t seek to lead anyone’s life for him. We only seek to secure his rights.” The federal appeals court in Denver plans hearings in Utah’s case on April 10 and Oklahoma’s on April 17.

Christian bakers should let them eat cake

gayweddingcake“Conservative Christians should not be in the condemnation business, but in the restoration business,” wrote Cal Thomas, in a column about the Arizona bill meant to guarantee the “free exercise of religion” for businesses and their employees as gay-rights advocates push for legal and societal approval of same-sex marriage. Thomas said: “The Christian bakers who refused to bake the cake might have used their opportunity to tell the gay couple about the God who loves them more than they could ever love each other. That would have been a proper – and biblical – exercise of their faith and religious freedom under the First Amendment’s free-speech clause.”

Glickman: What happened to Kansas’ civil rights leadership?

glickmanAdd the voice of former Wichita congressman Dan Glickman to those of current and former Kansans expressing disappointment in the House’s passage of the bill that would have enabled government and private-sector employees to use religious beliefs to refuse service to gay couples. Writing for Huffington Post, Glickman wondered what has happened to the state linked to the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 and the first lunch-counter sit-in at a Wichita drugstore in 1958. “I sincerely hope that this bill never rears its ugly head again and that this episode is nothing more than an aberration from the leadership Kansas has taken against discrimination throughout the state’s history,” wrote Glickman, now senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. “From William Allen White’s fight against the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s to Sen. Bob Dole’s leadership on major civil rights and anti-discrimination legislation, Kansans have a lot to be proud of in their state’s leadership against discrimination.”

Pro-con: Did Kansas need religious liberty bill?

Iowa Gay Marriage RallyWill the state force a florist, a caterer, a photographer or a baker – to name only a handful – to provide goods and services to anyone, contrary to their own consciences and religious beliefs? Kansas legislators attempted to answer that question in the negative, and they were right to do so. Some ill-informed commentators have compared what’s happening in Kansas to the old Jim Crow laws that marred the South for much of the 20th century before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They forget that Jim Crow forced businesses to discriminate and segregate by race. The Kansas bill, by contrast, would do nothing more than free private citizens from legal consequences if they choose not to do business associated with same-sex marriage. Compulsion versus choice: See the difference? Kansas lawmakers fought a valiant but doomed effort to preserve a shred of liberty rightly understood – liberty of conscience, liberty of contract, liberty of property, liberty of association. The courts and the culture have shifted. We have very few of those old liberties left. But, oh, goodness, do we have coercion galore. – Ben Boychuk, City Journal

Most Kansans hate Fred Phelps, the notorious anti-gay preacher. But if a “religious freedom” bill passes the Legislature in any form similar to the one that won approval in the Kansas House, well, Kansas will be tied more tightly to the Phelps legacy than ever before. You don’t have to shout “God hates fags” at the top of your lungs to put Phelps’ philosophy into action. And the only reason the bill exists is hysteria. Yes, in Colorado, a gay couple sued a cake maker who refused his services for their wedding. But unlike Colorado, Kansas has no legal protections for gays and lesbians. They have no legal standing to sue anybody for any reason connected to their sexuality. So a bill protecting Christians from gay lawsuits accomplishes almost nothing except to whip up emotions on all sides of the issue. Except this: It sends a signal, loud and clear, to Kansans and the rest of the world, that there is one group – and one group only – that the state gives explicit permission to discriminate against: gay and lesbian Kansans. That’s a breathtaking achievement. And it is wrong. – Joel Mathis, Philadelphia Magazine

Sullivan: Kansas bill also about national GOP

gayweddingcakeThe scathing national commentary about the Kansas House’s passage of HB 2453 included a thoughtful condemnation by Andrew Sullivan, who said the bill “is premised on the notion that the most pressing injustice in Kansas right now is the persecution some religious people are allegedly experiencing at the hands of homosexuals.” Sullivan, an openly gay conservative, also wrote: “If the Republican Party wanted to demonstrate that it wants no votes from anyone under 40, it couldn’t have found a better way to do it.” And he said: “This is about Kansas, but it is also about the Republican Party. Are there any Republicans willing to oppose this new strategy? Do the GOP’s national leaders support it?”

Wagle sees bill for what it is: discrimination

waglenewSenate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, is wise to be concerned about the impact of House Bill 2453, which allows people, including government employees, to refuse service to same-sex couples. She said the bill, which overwhelmingly passed the House, is unlikely to pass the Senate, saying her members “don’t condone discrimination.” The bill was crafted by an out-of-state group and pitched as a defense of religious liberties in case Kansas’ same-sex marriage prohibition is overturned by the courts. But as written, the bill is a license to discriminate. Good for Wagle and other senators for seeing through it.

Equal protection or majority rule on marriage rights?

gayweddingcake1Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin complained Tuesday about a court striking down her state’s ban on same-sex marriages, saying that “the will of the people has once again been ignored by the federal government.” But U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled that those in the minority are entitled to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution. “Exclusion of just one class of citizens from receiving a marriage license based upon the perceived ‘threat’ they pose to the marital institution is, at bottom, an arbitrary exclusion based upon the majority’s disapproval of the defined class,” he wrote. “It is also insulting to same-sex couples, who are human beings capable of forming loving, committed, enduring relationships.”

Delegation isn’t rushing to sponsor marriage amendment

A bill by Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, that would amend the U.S. Constitution to block gay marriages had 47 co-sponsors as of Monday, the Hutchinson News reported. So far no other Kansas delegation member had signed on, though Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, is considering it. “I strongly believe in defending traditional marriage as between a man and a woman and am looking at this amendment carefully,” he said in a statement. The measure would have to be approved by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate (which won’t happen) before going to the states for a vote.

‘Meet the Press’ meets Huelskamp

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, took his push for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. Speaking from Great Bend, Huelskamp called the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions “outrageous” and variously said “they’ve taken upon themselves to rewrite the Constitution,” “decided the desires of adults should trump the needs of children” and “attempted to short-circuit the democratic process.” Asked by host David Gregory what he has against gays and lesbians marrying, Huelskamp said that for centuries, “every major world religion has identified marriage as between a man and a woman, and that’s the simple issue here.” And forget GOP strategists who think the debate is over, he said: “There are more folks today that are opposed to abortion than support homosexual marriage. But the real issue here is: Who gets to decide? Do five justices get to decide or do the American people get to decide?”

Pro-con: Was same-sex marriage ruling the right decision?

Wednesday saw a triumph in the continuing struggle for equality in America. A divided Supreme Court rolled back two discriminatory laws, California’s Proposition 8 and a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Though not a total victory for those who believe gay and lesbian couples everywhere should be able to marry, the decisions nonetheless built upon and extended what has been a momentous half year for gay rights. Until the justices rule more forcefully, same-sex marriage advocates must look beyond the courts for action and toward democratic legitimacy. If Californians voted again on same-sex marriage, polls show that what was a close call in 2008 would be an easy win today. The court’s rulings Wednesday were welcome, but in essence they only affirmed how quickly the nation has moved away from prejudice and toward essential respect for all Americans. – Washington Post

It was outrageous for the Supreme Court to invalidate Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and allow the potential invalidation of California’s Proposition 8, a law passed with the support of more than 7 million voters. Although Wednesday was a sad day for democracy and for marriage, this is not the end of the battle. The vast majority of states recognize marriage solely as the union of one man and one woman. Only 13 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex “marriage,” and nothing the Supreme Court just did changes that fact. If anything, the court’s opinion in United States v. Windsor, the DOMA case, shows that the federal government must respect the decision of states to define marriage as they choose. – Brian S. Brown, National Organization for Marriage

Top Kansas leaders mostly silent on same-sex marriage decisions

It was interesting that Kansas’ two U.S. senators and three of its four members of the U.S. House did not release official statements about the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, considering that in the past they have weighed in on big court decisions. Nor did Gov. Sam Brownback issue a statement Wednesday, and Attorney General Derek Schmidt did not respond to the Lawrence Journal-World’s repeated requests for comment about the impacts of the decision in Kansas. That left Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, to speak to and, some might assume, for Kansans in condemning the rulings and announcing his push to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage. But former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, now in President Obama’s Cabinet, tweeted: “Decision on #DOMA reaffirms the core belief that we are all created equal and must be treated as equal; victory for families, #equality.”

UPDATE: Late Thursday afternoon Pompeo’s office called our attention to a statement posted on his website during the day: “The court’s attack on marriage – as defined as between one man and one woman – is both sad and counter to the most profound tradition of our great nation. As an attorney and a conservative, I am confounded by the Supreme Court’s bizarre set of decisions that found DOMA unconstitutional and didn’t rule on the merits of Prop 8. The Supreme Court has taken the position of refusing the right of Congress to legislate federal law based on the will of the people. This is a travesty. I remain dedicated to strengthening the institution of traditional marriage.” In addition, when asked about the decisions Thursday, Brownback said he was reviewing them before making a statement, according to the Lawrence Journal-World’s Scott Rothschild.

Big day for gay rights

Though they stopped short of declaring there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, Wednesday’s decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 will stand together as a milestone in gay rights. Opponents can be expected to push harder for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the rulings won’t affect the state laws and amendments barring it, such as in Kansas. But they mean that same-sex married couples are entitled to federal tax and other benefits, and presumably that gay marriages will resume in populous California as they continue in 12 other states and the District of Columbia. The 5-4 decisions found the court about as split as the American public, 51 percent of which supports same-sex marriage. But they also signal that legal recognition of same-sex marriage is inevitable – just as 72 percent of Americans believe it to be.

Salina mayor backing same-sex marriage

Salina Mayor Barb Shirley is the first Kansas mayor to join Mayors for Freedom to Marry, which supports same-sex marriage, the Salina Journal reported. “I want all people to have the same civil rights,” she said. Shirley’s announcement came six months after Salina residents voted 54.2 to 45.8 percent to repeal a city ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Huelskamp fears for motherhood

In a commentary in the Washington Times, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, characterized “God, the flag, mom and apple pie” as pillars “of the American paradigm for our patriotic, wholesome culture.” He claimed that “activist judges have already expelled faith from the public square” and “decriminalized burning the Stars and Stripes in public.” Huelskamp continued: “The first lady’s ‘Let’s Move!’ initiative and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s sugary-drink ban suggest the days of consuming apple pie might well be numbered. That leaves motherhood.” And that will be irreparably harmed, he wrote, if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. “Redefining marriage to remove parents of both sexes from the equation would further the destruction of the family, the most fundamental building block of society,” he wrote.

How settled is marriage issue in Kansas?

Gov. Sam Brownback may think same-sex marriage is a settled issue in Kansas eight years after nearly 70 percent of voters approved a constitutional amendment that prohibited it and barred the state from recognizing civil unions. And 87 percent of those Kansans recently polled by SurveyUSA said their opinion on same-sex marriage hadn’t changed over the past couple of years. But the survey, sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12, also found that 60 percent of Kansans said same-sex couples should be able to share in the legal benefits of marriage. In addition, 42 percent said the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold lower courts’ rulings against California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Huelskamp unmoved by Portman’s marriage flip-flop

Sen. Rob Portman (in photo), R-Ohio, created a buzz by announcing a change of heart on same-sex marriage, a decision that followed a son’s announcement that he is gay. But according to ThinkProgress, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, was dismissive, calling Portman “a senator who couldn’t deliver his own home state in the presidential election” and complaining that “somehow we’re supposed to believe that if we abandon traditional marriage that liberals are going to flock to us.” Speaking at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, Huelskamp also said, “The principle is, traditional marriage and family is the foundation of society.” Asked whether he would re-examine his own position if he had a gay son, the Kansan said: “I support traditional marriage.”

Shifting views in Kansas on same-sex marriage, unions

Eight years ago, an amendment to the Kansas Constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions passed with an unequivocal 70 percent of the vote. But attitudes are changing in the state, at least according to a February survey by Public Policy Polling. Fifty-one percent of those Kansans polled said same-sex marriage should not be allowed, but only 34 percent said there should be no legal recognition of gay relationships. Another 34 percent said gay couples should be allowed to marry, while 29 percent approved of civil unions but not marriages for gay couples.

Big election for gay rights, though not in Kansas

Though city ordinances protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination were voted down in Hutchinson and Salina, there were big victories for gay rights nationally. Maine and Maryland voters legalized gay marriage, and Minnesota voters rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Washington state also appears to have legalized gay marriage. Meanwhile, Wisconsin elected the first openly gay U.S. senator in history, Rep. Tammy Baldwin.

Is Chick-fil-A waffling like its fries?

A Chicago official and a gay-rights organization announced last week that Chick-fil-A executives had pledged to stop giving money to anti-gay groups. The company said in a letter that its nonprofit arm, the WinShape Foundation, would not support “organizations with political agendas,” and it affirmed in a statement that it would protect its employees against discrimination. But after a backlash from conservative Christians who had rallied to support the company, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy denied the company has agreed to cease making donations to groups that oppose gay marriage.

Public wants limits on PAC donations

More than 8 in 10 Americans want limits on the amount of money that corporations, unions and other groups can donate to political action committees to try to influence U.S. elections, according to a survey by Associated Press and the National Constitution Center. But as AP noted, such limits might require a constitutional amendment, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 2010 Citizens United case that such spending is a protected form of political speech. More than 6 in 10 of those surveyed also favored giving same-sex couples the same government benefits as other married couples, and slightly more than half of Americans support legal recognition of gay marriage.

Chick-fil-A flap a First Amendment issue

The reaction to Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy saying that he supports traditional marriages “tells you everything you need to know about certain liberals who believe every sort of speech, activity and expression should be protected, except the speech, activity and expression of evangelical Christians,” columnist Cal Thomas wrote. He argued that the controversy and calls by some to boycott Chick-fil-A are more than an economic battle. “It is a First Amendment issue,” he wrote. “Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution. Cathy has a right to his opinion.”