A proposal to place a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions for gay couples in the Kansas Constitution received first-round approval Tuesday in the House, setting up another vote that would put the measure before voters on April 5.
The final House vote is scheduled for Wednesday. The measure would amend the state constitution to declare that only traditionally married couples are entitled to benefits associated with marriage.
The vote Tuesday to advance the measure was 89-28.
On Wednesday, supporters need a two-thirds majority, or 84 of 125 votes, for final adoption. Senators adopted the proposal Jan. 13. Approval by a simple majority of voters statewide would add the ban to the state constitution.
Supporters argued during debate Tuesday the proposed amendment would protect the state's traditional definition of marriage from legal challenges.
"The government needs to support traditional families," said Rep. Forrest Knox, R-Fredonia. "I view this as a commonsense point of view."
Opponents argued the amendment was discriminatory and that history would judge lawmakers unfavorably for adopting it.
"Kansas has a great heritage of freedom and independent action," said Rep. Geraldine Flaharty, D-Wichita. "I cannot shame that heritage."
House members voted 83-41 against narrowing the amendment so that it would only restate the traditional definition of marriage but not preclude civil unions.