Topeka Despite a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, Atty. Gen. Phill Kline said Friday his office would defend any move by companies and governmental agencies to extend benefits to gay partners.
Kline was a chief supporter of the amendment, which voters approved April 5. The vote was ratified during a meeting Friday of the State Board of Canvassers.
During the campaign, opponents said the amendment could be construed to prohibit benefits to same-sex partners and jeopardize enforcement of domestic abuse, if the couple did not fit the definition of marriage.
That part, called clause B, states that no relationship other than marriage "can have the rights or incidences of marriage."
Those legal questions have cropped up in other states.
In Michigan, the attorney general has ruled that a gay-marriage ban approved by that state's voters also prohibits public employers from offering health benefits to partners in homosexual and heterosexual relationships.
In Ohio, several men are trying to get their domestic abuse charges dropped because the abuse happened in relationships outside marriage.
But Kline said his interpretation of the Kansas amendment would preclude those kinds of actions. The second part of the amendment "prevents the Legislature from creating what is commonly referred to as a civil union," Kline said. "The broad interpretation of clause B is faulty and not consistent with legislative intent."
Opponents of the amendment said Kline was being deceptive.
|Final, official results from Kansas' election April 5 on whether a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions should be added to the state constitution:¢ Yes: 417,627, or 70 percent.¢ No: 179,432, or 30 percent.¢ Turnout: 36 percent of the state's registered voters.Source: State Board of Canvassers|
"He is trying to round off the hard edges to it," said Bruce Ney, of Lawrence, who led a group opposing the amendment.
"How can a private business truly exempt itself from the applications of a constitutional amendment?" Ney asked.
He described Kline's comments as a "political duck and run."
One thing Ney and Kline agreed on is that the amendment, like similar ones in other states, will be resolved in court.
"These issues end up falling in the U.S. Supreme Court," Kline said.
At the canvassers' meeting, Kline, Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh and Matt All, representing Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, approved the election results.
"This is now the law of the land," Thornburgh said.
Kansas voters approved the constitutional amendment by a margin of 70 percent to 30 percent.
Douglas County was the only county of Kansas' 105 counties where voters rejected the measure. The vote was 15,978 to 9,431.
The issue attracted 35.5 percent of eligible voters to the polls, the highest turnout ever for a springtime constitutional amendment question, Thornburgh said.
In Douglas County, 39 percent of registered voters cast ballots. The highest percentage turnout was Russell County in west Kansas at 53.2 percent, the lowest was in Chatauqua County in southeast Kansas at 24.1 percent.