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Archive for Friday, February 2, 2007

Legislator wants to stop domestic registry plan in Lawrence

February 2, 2007

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— The city of Lawrence would be prohibited from starting a domestic partnership registry under legislation filed by a state lawmaker.

The bill's author, Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, said Thursday the proposed registry in Lawrence raised numerous legal questions.

"Domestic relationship law is really within the state purview," said Kinzer, who is considered one of the most conservative members of the Legislature.

House Bill 2299 would prevent any city or county from establishing a domestic partner registry that "recognizes any domestic partnership not recognized under state law."

Kinzer said those who want to change the law to allow domestic partnership registries should seek a statewide change from the Kansas Legislature.

The registry measure under consideration by the Lawrence City Commission would recognize domestic partnerships of same-sex and opposite-sex couples who are not married.

Supporters say the registry wouldn't confer any new legal rights to the couples. But it would provide the governmental documentation needed for people who work for companies that extend health insurance to workers' partners to get those benefits, they say.

Kinzer said he was concerned the registry could run afoul of the voter-approved state constitutional amendment in 2005 that recognizes marriage only between one man and one woman.

He said an instance could arise where under the proposed Lawrence registry a same-sex couple would not have the same rights - because of the state constitutional amendment - as an opposite sex, unmarried couple.

State lawmaker takes aim at 'Domestic Partnership Registry'

Representative Lance Kinzer filed legislation to prohibit cities and counties from approving domestic partnership registries - like the one currently before Lawrence City Commissioners. Enlarge video

"This bill will avoid conflicts and litigation that could develop out of the passage of inconsistent domestic partnership laws across the state," he said.

A majority of Lawrence city commissioners have voiced approval for the registry, but they have decided to seek an opinion from the Kansas attorney general on whether it would violate the constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

Commissioner Boog Highberger said Kinzer shouldn't interfere with a local issue.

"Kansas has strong home rule laws. I would prefer we be allowed to make our own decisions," Highberger said.

Maggie Childs, chairwoman of the local chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition and a proponent of Lawrence registry, said she was disappointed by Kinzer's action.

"I think it is really sad that he won't let Lawrence take the initiative to create a registry to help unmarried couples access health insurance protection offered by private employers," Childs said.

On Kinzer's argument that the registry should be a statewide issue, she said: "I don't buy that. In this country, usually the default position is local control.

"Ordinary people get to choose what their community looks like," she said.

Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, described Kinzer's proposal as "meddling in a local issue."

"I don't see why the Legislature needs to address that issue," he said. "What is the state interest in preventing the city of Lawrence from creating a domestic partnership registry?"

The bill has been referred to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. A public hearing hasn't been scheduled, but Kinzer is confident one will occur.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 11 months ago

"WHy not allow relationships for the "open minded" folks who have relationships with their "farm animals""

Yea, if it was good enough for your parents, consumer1, it's good enough for everyone.

werekoala 7 years, 11 months ago

I can't decide why the concept of "CONSENTING ADULTS" is so hard for folks like consumer1 to wrap their heads around.

But I sure don't want them taking my daughter out until they figure it out!

Sigmund 7 years, 11 months ago

I am not a fan of the Domestic Partner Registry because it is nothing but symbolic nonsense which conveys no rights nor imposes any obligation. Really it is a completely worthless waste of time, money, and resources. A glorified City sponsored MySpace for the Gay/Lesbian community in Lawrence.

That said, this is none of the Legislatures business and it is certainly it is none of Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe business. If Lawrencians want to register it's citizens and classify them based upon sexual preferences then they should be allow to do so.

antikoolaiddrinker 7 years, 11 months ago

I guess we should just become another San Francisco.

compmd 7 years, 11 months ago

As much as I don't like this legislator, he's actually right about a few things.

There will be lawsuits because of this. Where are those lawsuits going to be filed? State courts. At the very least, you'll have couples breaking up that get into arguments over asset disbursement. Look at how many marriages end in divorce; a "domestic partnership" has no greater chance of succeeding, especially if it is on equal ground with marriage, as the proponents claim it is.

Because of all the people who will be suing each other, the city, and maybe even the state, and those prosecuted under state laws, the amount of money spent on lawyers will be staggering. Courts will see an increase in caseload. Who wins in this situation? Not you, not me, not the domestic partners who want to be recognized: lawyers win.

Insurance companies will need to adjust their policies. The potential for fraud increases, actual fraud will also increase (we've been over this in earlier discussions), thus insurance will become more expensive. Sandy Praeger's office then has a nightmare on its hands.

So yeah, it looks like this really is a state issue. And before you think that the state is overstepping its bounds by taking up a position in accordance with a prior state law, read the 10th amendment. They have every right to step in here.

jafs 7 years, 11 months ago

The registry would not confer any actual benefits other than those provided by employers voluntarily to unmarried couples.

Unless those couples draw up legal documents sharing assets, etc. there will be none of the above problems.

There might be a slight increase in issues for insurance companies, but I'm not too concerned about that - I'm sure they can take care of themselves.

Whatever happened to "all ... created equal"?

monkeyhawk 7 years, 11 months ago

Well, we can blame all of this on Marion. He is the one who forced that guy to come out of the closet, after all.

It is interesting that all of a sudden this has become a registry for heteros as well. (Reminds me of when some around here want new libraries & playgrounds they say "it's for the children".) Unmarried straights have been living together for decades without any rally for a registry. It has now become "convenient" for them to be included in this largely symbolic list.

I personally do not care if there is a registry. I DO care if money comes out of my pocket to fight this through litigation.

marxisnotdead 7 years, 11 months ago

Possible registries for health benefits and possible domestic liabilities: Prostitutes-already mentioned Drug Dealers-makes marketing much easier as well as collection of tax dollars from their drug stamps. Swingers Slingers People who pray People who prey People with mustaches-they do trap bacteria and germs People with musty axes-chainsaws are now the rave Those who drink before noon Those who drink after noon Those who do both the above Smokers who inhale Smokers who only hold it in their fingers to look cool

Jamesaust 7 years, 11 months ago

"I guess we should just become another San Francisco."

Lawrence has an opportunity to become a major city, renowed in every corner of the world? celebrated in word, picture, and song? famous for its sweeping vistas, colorful history? world-class dining and shopping, entertainment and culture, major league athletics? immense wealth, a high standard of living, high quality jobs? culturally diverse?

Naw ... let's just stick with Kansas, whose motto is: "eh, good enough." Forget this go-go, 21st century business; there's nothing wrong with being a minimum wage backwater.

Sigmund 7 years, 11 months ago

You do not need a Domestic Partner Registry to draw up documents sharing assets, etc. But you can't get all the benefits conferred upon spouses no matter how often you register. As for the possibility of being sued, the Kommissioners have made it clear that they could care less. The way they see it they might as well get a volume discounts on legal fees from the JoCo law firm that represents them on the WalMart case.

EXks 7 years, 11 months ago

"I' guess we should just become another San Francisco."

antikoolaiddrinker

Hmmm, news flash antikoolaiddrinker!

Small town Lawrence is 10 million lights years from even becoming remotely another San Francisco. Besides, the majestic Golden Gate Bridge wouldn't look so golden crossing the tiny Kaw River.

roger_o_thornhill 7 years, 11 months ago

Let's just stop giving extra rights to those who get "married". Why should so-called "married" people be eligible for anything more than non "married" folk? Please answer without bringing up children because having children is not a prerequisite of being "married".

BUT OUT OF BUSINESS THAT ISN'T YOURS! WORRY ABOUT YOUR OWN LIVES! THEN, AND ONLY THEN WILL YOU BE ABLE TO START TO BE HAPPY.

But mostly, if you think govt. should be small and unobtrusive, get it out of the whole business of "marriage". If two hetero lifetime friends of the same sex want to share their lives together let them too. What about Jack Klugman and Tony Randall? Would you deny them the rights of inheritance and to visit @ the hospital, etc...? Wouldn't their home be a better situation for an adoptee or foster kid than the alternative?

Sigmund 7 years, 11 months ago

I should have said our gay Kommissioner could NOT care less if Lawrence is sued, my bad. "Rundle said he wasn't letting the possibility of a court battle factor into his decision-making process." http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/dec...

As to the assertion that everyone who thinks this is a waste of time, money, and resources is homophobic, well that is laughable. So if this isn't about sexual preferences why is this only offered to gay/lesbian couples and not to straight couples who are "committed" but do not wish to marry?

antikoolaiddrinker 7 years, 11 months ago

Why are liberal's so hateful? All the name calling? If they don't get agreement, they label those whom they don't agree with and become viscious in doing so. How can you have any healthy debate when such anger erupts? It's like a child who doesn't get his or her way and throws a temper trantrum. No wonder there is such polarization. I'll probably be attacked for just making these comments.

Emily Hadley 7 years, 11 months ago

From article: "House Bill 2299 would prevent any city or county from establishing a domestic partner registry that 'recognizes any domestic partnership not recognized under state law.'"

Are any domestic partnerships recognized under state law?

It is my understanding that the lack of any such state registry was the motivation for this local initiative.

The fact that we have not excluded same-sex couples from this domestic partnership registry has nothing to do with any marriage laws.

antikoolaiddrinker 7 years, 11 months ago

By your definition if you don't agree with a conservative does that make you bigotted also? Do you think the word "bigot" conjurs up favorable opinions in people's minds? Why not state your opinion without attacking somebody by calling them a bigot? I suppose it's much easier to label somebody with a devisive word than merely say I don't agree with your stance. I'm not always right in my opinion, I confess it. But it's really hard to listen to an opposing view with the type of candor that is hostile in tone by personally attacking.

Rationalanimal 7 years, 11 months ago

"Commissioner Boog Highberger said Kinzer shouldn't interfere with a local issue."

According to Boog, the only issue that isn't a local issue in the United States of the City of Lawrence is running a sensible local government. Frankly, I am surprised the governing body of the USCL hasn't adopted the Keyoto Treaty yet, or withdrawn our troops from Iraq.

compmd 7 years, 11 months ago

Wow, I didn't realize that pointed out established law and policy that I didn't make made me a bigot. I don't have anything against gays. Always had gay friends, and never judged them. I do take issue with activist politicians pushing personal agendas and funding them with public money.

I said lawsuits would be filed, and I meant civil suits. I believe there has been sufficient discussion on this topic already.

On the insurance topic, once again I raise the roommate scenario that has already been discussed. It has nothin to do with gay right whatsoever.

"And the honorable gentleman from Olathe has also been on record in favor of local rights and against government intrusion into his live, but has shown himself to be a fraud and a liar by betraying his principles in a heartbeat on this matter."

Or maybe, just maybe, as a politician responsible to the people of the state of kansas and the laws of the state of kansas, he is upholding his duty as a public servant. He isn't supposed to act on his feelings, he is supposed to act on the laws of the state and the wishes of his constituents with respect to the law. The same people that call him a turncoat would be happy if he ignored his job this time, but if he acted on his feelings to propose some sort of crazy law they don't like, they'd crucify him in a second. But what do I know, I'm just a bigot/nazi/other knee-jerk insult. People never cease to amaze me.

bugmenot 7 years, 11 months ago

For the record, this isn't just a local issue or a state issue. If this got into state court, it falls under the rubrick of the United States Constitution (marriage is considered a fundamental right under the Constitution). Eventually, this issue will be settled by the Supreme Court.

There is nothing more intellectually dishonest and, frankly, ignorant than comparing homosexuality to bestiality. Homosexuality is not a sexual deviance, for one. I'm saddened to think there are still people who look at it like a deviance or a disease. Second, since there seems to be confusion about this, homosexuality is allowed and bestiality is not, under the law, because of the issue of capacity and consent. Just like the way sex with minors is illegal because children aren't of an age we deem to be old enough to have the capacity to consent to sex, animals do not have the capacity to consent to sex. That's why both are illegal. Sex between an adult man and an adult woman, two adult men, or two adult women is legal in every sense as long as both parties can consent.

antikoolaiddrinker 7 years, 11 months ago

If a 15 year old girl consents to have sex with a 22 year old man, is it still under the law illegal?

Rationalanimal 7 years, 11 months ago

Can you point to the language in the US Constitution that says unqualified, or even qualified ,marriage is a matter of constitutional right? Sex between whomever is legal, but what the folks here in Kansas and other states are saying is that marriage is more than whom your having sex with. Until the Supreme Court of the United States of America strikes down state constitutions that define marriage as being between 1 man and 1 woman, it is a state issue. However, you might want to take your case to the Supreme Court of the United States of the City of Lawrence. You probably have a good shot at the Highburger overturning these bigotted, racist, global warming causing state constitutional provisions.

kmat 7 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

bugmenot 7 years, 11 months ago

The Supreme Court held in Loving v. Virginia that marriage is a fundamental right under the United States Constitution and as such any state attempts to restrict access to marriage for its citizens were subject to the highest scrutiny. That was a case about marital relationships frowned upon because of the races involved; I only hope someday we look back ashamed to a time when we restricted marriage for other bigoted reasons.

bugmenot 7 years, 11 months ago

No, it's illegal, because under our law, a 15 year is deemed incapable of consenting to sex. That's what statutory rape laws are all about; it means if you have sex with anyone under the age of consent, no matter how willing they appear to be, they are deemed to be unwilling participants under the law, thus it is rape.

bugmenot 7 years, 11 months ago

Rationalanimal; your outrage at the city council is overwhelming. You're entitled to your opinion there. Your understanding of Constitutional law is severely lacking, however, other than the understanding that, yes, until the US Supreme Court says Kansas (or other states) can't limit access to marriage to heterosexuals, the law in Kansas will stand. That's true. But, marriage has been held to be a fundamental constitutional right. The Supreme Court will have to do some serious word-twisting to explain why it's not a fundamental right for gays. You can rest assured that they probably will not bring this issue up for review any time soon, and if they do, the Bushies have ensured that they'll twist away and deny this important right to an entire sector of our society.

Rationalanimal 7 years, 11 months ago

NO, C.J. bugmenot, the Court did not rule in Loving v. Virginia that the right to marriage was unqualified. The parties at issue there was a man and a woman. One could therefore read the dicta in Loving v. Virginia exactly the opposite from what your proposing, marriage is a fundamental right between a man and a woman. The Court, as you concede, has refused to take the issue up further and until then, that is the most correct view of the dicta to take. So, despite whatever you and Chief Justice Highburger assert is constitutional law, it is merely wishful thinking in the United States of the City of Lawrence.

bugmenot 7 years, 11 months ago

"NO, C.J. bugmenot, the Court did not rule in Loving v. Virginia that the right to marriage was unqualified. " I never said it was unqualified; I said access to the institution of marriage was held to be a fundamental right. Based on your post, I still assume you are extremely unfamiliar with constitutional law, but I commend you for pulling out the word "dicta" to try to show people that you're a legal scholar.

Rationalanimal 7 years, 11 months ago

Now you're back peddling. C.J. Highburger to Holmes all in the same day. Please answer, did Loving v. Virginia expressly say marriage is an unqualified right, expressly including gay marriage?

bugmenot 7 years, 11 months ago

It said marriage is a fundamental right and any state attempt to restrict access of its citizens to that right should be evaluated using the strict scrutiny test. I said that before; I'm sorry if you don't like that answer, but that's what the Supreme Court held.

Rationalanimal 7 years, 11 months ago

Now your saying it is an unqualified right? You just said a moment ago that you didn't say that. Which is it?

bugmenot 7 years, 11 months ago

I'm not saying it's either. I'm saying the US Supreme Court held that a state's attempts to restrict its citizens' (it didn't define which citizens, homosexual or heterosexual, because that wasn't the issue) access to marriage should be viewed with strict scrutiny. In layman's terms, it means that states need to demonstrate a damn good reason that they have created laws prohiting certain people to marry. This case stands for the proposition that you apply the strictest constitutional test to laws limiting access to marriage. How "qualified" that is depends on further case law. For example, the Supreme Court didn't say in Loving what level of mental retardation gave the state enough of an interest to say certain people couldn't marry; they answered that in a later case. There hasn't been that "later case" for gay marriage yet. It isn't qualified or not qualified. (Look at my previous posts; I never said it was unqualified). The qualifications are, as yet, undetermined.

My interpretation of Con Law is that that case is solid ground for gays to argue they shouldn't be denied the right to marry without the state demonstrating its laws withstand strict scrutiny. I can't think of a "good reason" why gays shouldn't marry; other people can, and that's a subject for debate. Some day the Supreme Court will settle this; I just hope they come down on the side of allowing gays to marry. That's my subjective opinion, but under the law, it remains unanswered.

bugmenot 7 years, 11 months ago

I hate to be a grammar stickler, but the your/you're mistake is one of my least favorites. You're = you are, your = possessive.

Jamesaust 7 years, 11 months ago

Rationalanimal: "Can you point to the language in the US Constitution that says unqualified, or even qualified ,marriage is a matter of constitutional right?"

Yes, as long as you strike the word "marriage."
The subject at hand is the right of local governments to make zoning policy versus (an attempt by) state government to forbid local governments to accomodate a single class of citizens. No one is getting married in name or substance. (Allowing Lawrence to make its own local policies does not increase (or decrease) by a single one the number of people married in the state.)

The point in the Constitution is summarized eloquently by "Romer v. Evans" - a similar but not identical case from 1996. In it, Colorado amended their state constitution to forbid localities (such as liberal Boulder) from enacting local anti-gay-discrimination laws. This conflicted with Colorado's on local rule policy and localities remained free to set local anti-discrimination laws - except for gays.

The United States Supreme Court struck that down, finding a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Said the Court: "If the constitutional conception of 'equal protection of the laws' means anything, it must at the very least mean that a bare desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest."

In Kansas, the question is: what legitimate government interest exists for the State to violate its local rule constitutionally-mandated policy by singling out a single group of people who are required to be treated differently from all other persons?

(This policy makes as much sense as allowing Lawrence to make zoning policy addressing churches, mosques, etc. -- except for Methodists -- only the State itself can set zoning policy for Methodist churches.)

In other words, how does this bill not conflict with the constititutionally-guaranteed right "to petition government for redress of grievances" since it singles out one-narrow group and tells the city government: 'you may not address these peoples' concerns' on the topic of zoning, a topic otherwise left to your own discretion?

kmat 7 years, 11 months ago

Esq2eB

There is a big difference between the power plant and this registry. The coal powered plant will put more toxic cr@p in the air, which will come across the state to us. A toxic, poluting plant affects everyone in the state and in other states.

Rationalanimal 7 years, 11 months ago

OK, fine, they said marriage was a fundamental right. But that is not the same as what your saying it means. You'RE making a quantum leap from fundmantel right to marriage to include an unqualified right to include gay marriage. Such an interpretation is not supported by Court's current treatment of leaving this issue to the states. If gay marriage was an unqualified constitutional right as you say, it would have been granted cert and the Court could have expanded the Loving v. Virginia ruling to include gay marriage. They have refused to do so and therefore your use of Loving v. Virginia is, again, wishful thinking. Let's talk when the Supreme Court of the United States of America actually rules on the issue, which they have yet to do, and their past treatment indicates they are unlikely to do so. Until then, it is a state issue.

Stephen 7 years, 11 months ago

Just another smokescreen to keep everyones focus off the real issues that are sinking the ship. It nobodies business if they do or don't.

compmd 7 years, 11 months ago

logicsound04, my apologies for the misinterpretation. We're both guilty of misinterpretation however. I believe that civil suits, not criminal will be filed. They will have nothing to do with the gay marriage ban. They will be between the members of a domestic partnership. Consider the percentage of married couples that get divorced. Divorce is a civil matter processed through state courts. Now, in a domestic partnership, its safe to assume that not every couple will be happy, and some will break up. How is that handled? In a civil courtroom. Hence, an increase in lawsuits. Now, I think there is a chance that someone will overzealously mark off "married" on a legally binding document whose scope is greater than that of the City of Lawrence, and that could cause problems. In this scenario, there could be conflict with the gay marriage ban, and people will start suing each other, the state, etc. The policy on domestic partnerships or gay marriage would then be redeveloped using caselaw instead of legislation, and that is a tremendously more expensive path.

If gay marriage were permitted, it would be very straightforward and very simple in my opinion. The state could likely adapt almost instantly. However, this proposal the city has is irresponsibly vague. There are myriad "what ifs" that are unaddressed, and (if passed) upon each discovery, the validity of the ordinance will be questioned and challenged. Do you want that kind of instability? A law that has so many holes and uncertainties that the continuation of its very existence is uncertain? This is not a solution for gay marriage, and it isn't a good placeholder until the marriage ban is repealed in Kansas. The city proposed this registry without consulting with state lawmakers, and without bothering to see if it would hold water.

The more I hear about this, the more I think that in a perfect world, the registry would be a good thing; after all, it is implemented in other municipalities and works fine. However, I think that the process in which it was developed and presented to the city, the state, and the people of Lawrence was flawed and emotionally driven by one man with a cause, and he let his feelings get in the way of ensuring that this ordinance would work. Its obvious Rundle meant well for the people that this registry would help, but he announced the proposal before it was really ready, and all the citizens of Lawrence are going to end up paying for the fallout from that.

budwhysir 7 years, 11 months ago

If I am correct, state politics trumps city politics. This seems to be an upper political message from the state side letting everyone know how politics work.

Its kind of like a govenor telling the president about a social security bill. It could happen but it is highly unlikely

Bladerunner 7 years, 11 months ago

I say we trade them their registry for our by-pass. A meaningless list for a road we can use. What a deal!

Bladerunner 7 years, 11 months ago

We could even let the city put round-a-bouts at Louisiana and Haskell Streets to sweeten the deal!

Bladerunner 7 years, 10 months ago

Wow! Even my high-fiber diet has the power to bind!

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago

Bugmenot's comments are quite interesting to me.

Assuming the previous Supreme Court decision is presented accurately, it seems to me that the Court should strike down all of the state marriage laws.

It is probably only due to the political make-up of the current Court that it has so far refused to hear cases on this issue.

And, of course, it may be quite a while before that changes - one of the drawbacks of lifetime terms for appointed justices.

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