Archive for Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Gays to rally around senator

GOP legislator commended for taking stand against marriage amendment

March 31, 2004


After last week's debate over gay marriage, Bruce Ney is worried about state Sen. David Adkins' future in Kansas politics.

"He's a marked man," said Ney, who's leading efforts to organize Lawrence's gay and lesbian communities.

"You could hear it in some of the conservatives' comments made during the debate," Ney said. "There will be quite an effort to unseat him."

Adkins, the Leawood Republican who opposed the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, commandeered debate in the Senate for 4 1/2-hours, derailing conservatives' efforts to force a succession of roll call votes.

Ney said he hoped Lawrence-area homosexuals now would rally behind Adkins and others, including Sen. Mark Buhler, R-Lawrence, who voted against the proposed amendment.

"They put their necks on the line for us; now we need to stand up for them," Ney said, adding that plans for rallying that support would be discussed Thursday during a meeting of NetworQ, a group of Lawrence-area homosexuals.

"It could mean going door to door or opening our checkbooks or both -- lots of things," said Ney, president of NetworQ. "We intend to be heard."

Conservative opposition

Adkins said he wasn't sure what to make of Ney's pledge of support.

"I welcome their support, of course," he said. "But, really, I don't know that there's much (conservatives) can throw at me that they haven't thrown already."

Adkins served four two-year terms in the House before being elected to the Senate in 2000. He ran for attorney general in 2002, losing to conservative Phill Kline in a heated Republican primary.

"I think I've been called every name in the book," Adkins said.

Dwight Sutherland, a conservative who opposed Adkins in the 2000 GOP primary, said he'd run for Adkins' Senate seat again this year.

NetworQ, a group working to organize Lawrence-area gays and lesbians, will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday."Because we're meeting at a member's house this time, we'd rather not put in the paper where it is," said NetworQ Vice President Bruce Ney. "But anyone who wants to attend can call me at 841-0708 or send an e-mail to"

"I plan on filing this week, maybe tomorrow," Sutherland said, though he declined to discuss his candidacy.

"Let me file first," he said.

Support of a ban

Since last week's debate, Adkins said his office had been flooded with e-mails and telephone messages.

"I can honestly say that communications have been more positive than negative," he said.

Still, he said, it is clear from the negative comments that "the grass-roots movement in support of a constitutional amendment remains strong."

It's more than strong, said Tamara Cooper, executive director of the Kansas Republican Assembly, a statewide association of conservative Republicans.

"We're going to do our best to see that he's defeated," Cooper said. "We don't need to be ruled in Topeka; we need to be represented. What he did was totally against the wishes of the people of Kansas."

Adkins said he was baffled but not surprised by the conservatives' anger.

"My position in this is that government ought not to be putting its nose into religion and that what goes on in the bedrooms of consenting adults is none of the government's business," he said.

"I would think that conservatives -- people of faith and strong convictions -- would be very interested in establishing that government has no business imposing its judgments in those venues."

Political analysis

Cooper scoffed at Adkins' analysis.

"The people of Kansas want exactly what the House sent the Senate in HCR 5033," Cooper said, referring to the House-passed resolution that would have prohibited gay marriage and kept gay couples from sharing employment benefits now offered to heterosexual couples and families.

"We don't want a watered-down piece of meaningless legislation," she said.

Whether a conservative can unseat Adkins remains to be seen.

"I don't know that Senator Adkins is any more vulnerable than he's been in the past," said Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at Kansas University who studies elections and voting patterns.

"His district tends to be made up of moderate Republicans who, frankly, don't see that anything's broken and who'll see this as a put-up deal by the conservatives," he said. "His base, I suspect, will continue to support him."

Adkins' district includes Leawood, Mission, Mission Hills, Prairie Village, Roeland Park, Westwood, Westwood Hills and part of Overland Park -- all in Johnson County.

Efforts to reach Buhler for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

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