Archive for Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Same-sex marriage donations pour in

Out-of-state groups support amendment on April 5 ballot

March 22, 2005


— Out-of-state funds are flooding into Kansas to persuade voters to support the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, according to finance reports filed Monday.

The Knights of Columbus -- the world's largest lay Catholic organization, based in New Haven, Conn. -- donated $100,000 to support the amendment that Kansans will decide April 5 at the polls.

In addition, the nationally known conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family, led by James Dobson out of Colorado Springs, Colo., has spent $23,063 to urge people to support the ban.

In total, groups supporting the amendment have raised $152,429, while groups opposing the amendment have raised $36,032, with much of that support coming from Lawrence residents.

Bruce Ney of Lawrence, chairman of Kansans for Fairness, which opposes the amendment, said the funding sources that supported the amendment were telling.

"The charade is over. This is about relegating gays and lesbians to second-class citizens," Ney said.

He said the out-of-state groups "want to put their religious stamp on the Kansas Constitution."

Mailings, broadcasts

The Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus dropped $100,000 into the campaign, stating that it had been active throughout the country and Canada, working to "protect traditional marriage."

The donation was made to Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas for a public education campaign to support the amendment.

Meanwhile, Focus on the Family has sent mailings to 25,000 Kansas families and 1,200 pastors, according to Peter Brandt, senior director of government and policy for the group.

It also has financed broadcast programming about the amendment during Focus on the Family radio shows that are popular on Christian stations.

"We aren't twisting arms," Brandt said. "We're just informing people who trust us for information."

Marriage amendment

Voters in Kansas will decide whether to add to the state constitution an amendment that bans gay marriage and civil unions. Specifically, the amendment says that marriage is defined as a civil contract between a man and a woman, and that no relationship other than marriage can have "the rights or incidents of marriage."

Focus on the Family has been involved in elections in 18 states that have banned same-sex marriages. Its Web site includes arguments opposing same-sex couples that have "been tested by focus groups and rated very strongly."

In addition, high-dollar support for the amendment has come from the so-called megachurches in Wichita, including $3,500 each from Immanuel Baptist Church and Central Christian Church. Concerned Women for America, a conservative group based in Washington, D.C., contributed $2,000.

Opposing groups

Opponents of the amendment include Kansans for Fairness and the Flint Hills Human Rights Project.

Kansans for Fairness received $5,000 from former Kansas Democratic Party Chair Dennis Langley, who now lives in South Dakota, and $5,000 from the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign.

But the rest of its funding came from Kansas, including a long list of Lawrence residents.

Lawrencians giving $250 or more include Ney, Kay Carmody, H. Rutherford Turnbull III, Elizabeth Stella, Thomas Van Holt and Kurt Schueler.

The Flint Hills Human Rights Project raised $4,730 and spent $4,048, mostly on ads in small-town newspapers. The group raised money from individuals, many in the Manhattan and Junction City areas.

Following the money

Carol Williams, executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, said the rules governing finance reporting in constitutional amendment elections were loose compared with regular political campaigns of candidates running for public offices.

Organizations raising and spending money on a constitutional amendment don't have to register with the state. She said she basically read newspaper reports to see who was spending money.

"It's going to be difficult to track this down," she said.

The final report for election spending is due April 20.

Advance voting already is occurring in the election, which also includes Lawrence City Commission and school board races. About 110 voters already have cast ballots at the Douglas County Courthouse, officials said.

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