Chat about Lawrence’s potential to enact a domestic partner registry
Maggie Childs of the Kansas Equality Coalition, one of the sponsors of a forum on May 4 to discuss issues related to the city of Lawrence’s proposed domestic partner registry, will chat with readers at noon on Tuesday, May 15.
Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison issued a legal opinion recently that Lawrence’s proposed domestic partnership registry wouldn’t interfere with the state’s amendment that bans gay marriage. The issue is pending with the City Commission.
Back to the commissioners–if fees cover costs and there is little chance of liability issues, what, then, besides a moral issue with homosexuality, might be the rationale for oppostion? Should those of us who support this contact Amyx, Dever and Chesnutt to try to get them to commit to support?
When you refer to “domestic Partners” aren’t you just avoiding the term Married couples? I get the feeling that by you attempting to change the wording of “married couples” to “domestic partners”. Through clever manipulation you are trying to compare un-married relationships to married to benefit your own agenda.
Does the domestic partner registry take any rights away from anyone?
Thank you for the great work you are doing Maggie! As I am sure you know, Kansas has a bad rap. What are some of your suggestions for things the people of Lawrence can do as individuals to encourage the appreciation of diversity here in Lawrence and across the state (in addition to supporting the registry)?
It appears the only thing the registry is expected to accomplish to make it possible for unmarried couples to access employer provided health benefits.
I am familiar with how many employer sponsored health plans are administered. With most, all that is required to consider a couple domestic partners is to show that they share finances, such as bank accounts, or property ownership, and for the employee to state that they are in a committed relationship. I doubt these companies will change their policies just because Lawrence has a registry that requires nothing of the couple other than to pay a fee.
My question is, why restrict the registry to couples? Why discriminate against the more non-traditional relationships that involve more than two people?
What happened to the comments that had been posted to this story?
Good afternoon. This is Dennis Anderson, managing editor of the Lawrence Journal-World. Our guest today is Maggie Childs of the Kansas Equality Coalition, one of the sponsors of a forum on May 4 to discuss issues related to the city of Lawrence’s proposed domestic partner registry. Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison issued a legal opinion recently that Lawrence’s proposed domestic partnership registry wouldn’t interfere with the state’s amendment that bans gay marriage. The issue is pending with the City Commission.
Hi. I’ll do my best to answer all your questions!
Do Kansas cities have the legal power/authority to force land-lords, employers, or other individuals or businesses to legally recognize same-couple relationships and/or require that such individuals or businesses treat those couples exactly the same as married heterosexual couples? If so, what gives cities that authority (the US Constitution, the KS Constitution, federal/state laws, etc.)?
If not, what legal impact does/will this registry actually have?
Or is/was it always intended merely as a symbolic gesture?
A registry would not give the city that power.
The registry will make it easy for employees to access the employee benefits that many companies already offer to the domestic partners of their employees.
It will also provide legal recognition of relationships that can now be miscontrued as roommate or housekeeper arrangements.
While it will serve to indicate the city’s acceptance of diverse families, it is far more than a mere gesture.
If Lawrence does adopt this registry, will the rights it protects extend beyond the city limits? For example, if a partner is hospitalized in Kansas City or Overland Park, will the hospital be bound by the legal protections provided by the city of Lawrence?
To Leslie: The registry as it is drafted provides no rights or responsibilities. It is up to employers and hospitals and other entitles, wherever they may be located, to chose to recognize domestic partnerships. The Kansas Equality Coalition intends to work to gain such recognition by hospitals, for example, once the registry is established.
Will passage of the domestic partner registry allow for two parent adoption? In other words, can one partner become the legal parent of the other partner’s child?
Adoption laws will not be affected by the registry.
Can you tell us about the Kansas Equality Coalition? What is the organization’s mission?
Our mission is to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity expression, and to ensure the dignity, safety and legal equality of all Kansans.
KEC was created in the fall of 2005 and consists of chapters in Lawrence, Wichita, Douglas County, Topeka, Salina, Manhattan, and Southwest Kansas.
We helped persuade Johnson County Community College to expand its aniti-discrimination protections; fought House Bill 2299 which would have banned domestic partnership registries all across Kansas; supported the anti-bullying bill that has become law, etc. For more information check out our website: www.kansasequalitycoaltion.org
KEC also worked to pass state legislation that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, but it stalled in the Senate. We’ll work on that again next year.
Where is the support and opposition coming from to the city’s proposed domestic partner registry?
Support is coming from people who think a registry is a matter of fairness. Our supporters are gay and straight, young and old, religious and secular folk.
The only opppostion seems to be from those who believe homosexuality is immoral. But, as the Supreme Court said in 2003 in Lawrence (not KS) vs. Texas, “Moral disapproval of a group does not justify discrimination.” The Catholic church opposes divorce, but divorce is legal.
Religious belief should guide one’s life and moral choices, but it should not be used to shape public policy when it would impinge on the freedom of those who hold other religious beliefs.
Which City Commissioners have publicly given the registry their support? Which have publicly opposed it? What are the concerns being voiced by those who are not sure?
Boog Highberger and Sue Hack have indicated their support. No commissioner has opposed it.
Commissioners Amyx, Chestnut and Dever have indicated they are still studying the issue.
There has been concern about the cost: Fees would cover all costs.
There has been concern about potential liability for the city if anyone used the registry fraudulently: Lawyers have said there is virtually no likelihood of the city being held liable in such a case.
Can my girlfriend and I get on the registry, even though we are heterosexual? Or is this only open to gay couples?
The registry will be for any unmarried couple. It is as much for heterosexual couples as it is for same-sex couples. There are a lot of reasons why people who can get married, don’t. For many people economic considerations make it counter-productive to marry. But they might still need the health insurance an employer offers to domestic partners or have other reasons to publicly declare that they are a couple/family.
How many couples in Lawrence do you think would sign up for a domestic partner registry?
It’s hard to predict the extent to which the registry will be used, but in Iowa City, which has a population of about 62,000, there are 72 couples on the registry at the moment.
If we could open up our registry to couples across the state, I think a geat many couples would come to Lawrence from elsewhere in Kansas to get registered. Unfortunately, Attorney General Paul Morrison recommended that the Lawrence registry only be open to residents of Lawrence. This is because one major argument for the registry is the right of home rule, that is, cities have the right to govern their citizens as they see fit to the widest possible extent. Lawrence is home to a very diverse community, a community that voted 70-30% against the 2005 marriage amendment (which defined marriage as heterosexual, and prohibited the extension of the “rights and incidents” of marriage to anyone else).
What effect could a registry have on the business community?
Businesses need to attract and retain the most talented and dedicated employees. Today such employees tend to look for communities that are open-minded. Economic growth is strongest in communities that have been able to attract members of what has been called the “creative class.” One thing that the creative class uses to gauge the open-mindedness of a town is how it treats its lgbt community.