Topeka The fate of a legislative proposal that is aimed at repealing Lawrence's domestic registry remains up in the air, just as a new study shows rapid growth in the number of same-sex couples in Kansas.
In 2000, 3,973 same-sex couples were living in Kansas; by 2005, the number had increased to 6,663, according to research released Thursday by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. The growth in same-sex couples in Kansas equals a 68 percent increase.
Adam Romero, a public policy fellow at the Williams Institute, said the increase is due to both general migration of same-sex couples to the Midwest and more couples feeling at ease in reporting their relationships.
He said the study based on Census data could be used by policymakers in debates on issues concerning domestic partnerships, hate crimes and employment discrimination.
"Our hope is that by providing state-specific information, we can better inform the debate within Kansas so that people know what same-sex couples look like," Romero said.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, said he wants to advance his proposal - House Bill 2299 - that would prevent cities and counties from adopting domestic partnership registries.
Last year, the Lawrence City Commission established a domestic partnership registry, at the request of gay and lesbian couples who said it could help them secure health insurance benefits for their partners.
The registry allows unmarried couples - both same-sex and heterosexual - to register their domestic partnerships at City Hall.
But Kinzer said the registry violates a Kansas constitutional amendment that voters approved in 2005, recognizing marriage as only between one man and one woman. He also says that rules affecting couples and families should be uniform throughout the state. A legal opinion by Attorney General Paul Morrison, however, says the registry doesn't violate the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
During the 2007 legislative session, a House committee approved Kinzer's bill, but it never received a vote before the full House.
Currently, the bill is listed on the House calendar and could be brought up for consideration if House leaders want to do so.
"It's still my desire that we have that debate and move it through the process," Kinzer said. But Kinzer said he has received no word from House leaders on what will happen with that bill.
House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, said no decision has been made yet on whether Kinzer's bill will be debated.
Demographics of gays, lesbians in state
The study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law provides a snapshot of information about gays and lesbians in Kansas. The study also shows 17 percent of same-sex couples in Kansas are raising nearly 1,800 children. Other findings include:
¢ An estimated 72,557 gay, lesbian and bisexual people live in Kansas.
¢ Same-sex couples were in every county with the highest percentage in Kearny County (0.71 percent of households); Jackson County, 0.68 percent; and Douglas County, 0.62 percent.
¢ Same-sex parents in Kansas have fewer financial resources to support their children than married parents. The median household income of same-sex couples with children is $50,400, or 11 percent less than that of married parents at $56,530.
The full report is available at: http://www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute/publications/KansasCensusSnapshot.pdf.