Topeka Opponents and supporters of a proposed state constitutional amendment banning gay marriages clashed today before a legislative committee.
David Greenbaum and Michael Silverman of Lawrence, who were married in a synagogue, said the proposal would run counter to religions that have accepted gay marriage.
"One particular religious viewpoint should not be put in the constitution," Greenbaum told the Senate Judiciary Committee during a one-hour hearing before an overflow crowd.
State lawmakers are considering a constitutional amendment that says Kansas recognizes only marriages between one man and one woman and confers the legal rights associated with marriage only on such couples.
The measure has been approved by the House and if it is adopted by a two-thirds majority in the Senate it will be placed on the ballot for consideration by voters statewide.
State law already says marriages in Kansas can only be between a man and a woman, but supporters of the proposed amendment say the rule needs to be placed in the state constitution to protect marriage from court decisions that say same-sex marriages must be recognized.
"Marriage is too important to be left unprotected," State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said.
Doug Robinson of Lawrence spoke in favor of the amendment, saying that homosexuals wanted to advance their cause to eventually legitimize various kinds of sexual acts.
But other Lawrence residents, who testified during the hearing, said the amendment would infringe on their civil rights.
Diane Silver, with the Freedom Coalition, a group of Douglas County citizens, said the measure would make life difficult for gays and lesbians.
She noted that when her same-sex partner died, she had to fight for custody of their son
Mary Corcoran of Lawrence said, "Amending our constitution to exclude a group of people would be wrong. It would be a vote for discrimination."
Bruce Ney, an attorney from Lawrence, said the proposed amendment would hurt the state economy by precluding companies from offering domestic partner benefits.
Several ministers spoke in favor of the amendment, saying that gay sex was unnatural, but Rabbi Barry Albin of Kansas City, Kan. said if the amendment were to pass he would find two people from a state that allows same-sex unions, bring them to Kansas and file a lawsuit against the state.
"We will challenge your unconstitutional act," he said.
The proposed constitutional amendment is HCR 5033.
For more on this story, pick up a copy of Thursday's Journal-World.