Committee to consider registry ban

Lawmaker says he wants to keep state law on domestic relationships uniform

? A House committee will work on a bill that would prevent the city of Lawrence from establishing a domestic partnership registry, the committee chairman said Friday.

State Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, said the House Federal and State Affairs Committee will consider the measure next week.

After a hearing on House Bill 2299 last month, Siegfreid said he wanted to find out whether the measure would run counter to the home rule authority of cities.

“There is no conflict with home rule,” he said Friday.

The bill would prevent any city or county from establishing a domestic partner registry that “recognizes any domestic partnership not recognized under state law.”

The legislation is being pushed by state Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe. He said the proposal would keep state law on domestic relationships uniform and protect the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

But during the bill’s hearing, a handful of Lawrence residents urged the committee to reject the measure.

They said a domestic partnership registry would help gay couples receive health insurance coverage from companies that extend benefits to their employees’ partners.

Some companies require a registry as proof of a domestic partnership.

“If couples are banned from registering anywhere in the state, they will be put in an impossible Catch-22 situation,” said Maggie Childs, chairwoman of the Kansas Equality Coalition of Lawrence and Douglas County.

“In effect, these citizens will be legally barred from receiving the benefits their employers want to give them,” she said.

Mayor Mike Amyx also wrote a letter opposing Kinzer’s ban, saying that the decision on whether to approve a domestic partnership registry should be left up to the city.

The city has requested a legal opinion from the state attorney general’s office on the legality of establishing a registry. The attorney general’s office said it will probably deliver an opinion in April.