Committee stands against partnership registry

? A House committee voted Thursday to prohibit domestic partnership registries in response to a move in Lawrence to establish one.

State Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, said House Bill 2299 was needed to protect the state constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

“There is a real potential for setting up legal challenges to the marriage amendment” through domestic partnership registries, Kinzer said.

But several Democrats on the House Federal and State Affairs Committee said the measure was a slap at homosexuals and privacy rights.

“This is about as mean as it gets,” said state Rep. Ann Mah, D-Topeka.

The committee recommended approval on a 10-6 vote, sending the bill to the full House for consideration.

It was the last bill on the committee’s agenda for the 2007 session.

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

Kinzer said the legislation would prevent a “hodgepodge” of laws on domestic relationships.

State Rep. Judith Loganbill, D-Wichita, proposed an amendment to set up a statewide domestic registry, which she said would address Kinzer’s concern that Kansas law remain uniform.

But Republicans defeated that measure.

“From the anything that goes department, it discriminates against four or five people who want to have an officially recognized loving relationship,” state Rep. Benjamin Hodge, R-Overland Park, said of Loganbill’s amendment.

The city of Lawrence has been considering whether to approve a domestic partnership registry and has requested an attorney general’s opinion on the legality of setting it up. That opinion is due in April.

Supporters of the registry say it would help gay couples receive health insurance coverage from companies that extend benefits to their employees’ partners. Under the registry, same-sex and opposite-sex couples could register as domestic partners.

Some companies require a registry as proof of a domestic partnership, supporters of the registry say.

But Kinzer said he thought supporters of a domestic partnership registry were trying to attain legal marital rights, and then assert them in a challenge to the constitutional amendment that states marriage in Kansas can only be between one man and one woman.

Hodge also said that gay couples should lobby their employers, not government, for the extension of health insurance benefits to their partners.