To the editor:
Freedom of speech and association are rights beloved by all Americans and guaranteed in our Bill of Rights.
The conservative Republican faction in Kansas demands litmus tests on its members such as being anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and pro-gun. They also enforce a rule that disallows anyone who supports a Democrat or any other candidate. The conservative leaders' absolutism has led to defections from their party and dissatisfaction from mainstream voters.
Unfortunately, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Senate Democratic leader Anthony Hensley are resorting to similar tactics within the Kansas Democrat Party by imposing a litmus test that tramples on the right to free speech and association.
State Sen. Mark Gilstrap, a 12-year incumbent from Wyandotte County, is a conservative Catholic Democrat who is staunchly opposed to abortion and tax hikes. His voting record demonstrates his personal beliefs on these issues and, having been elected three times, he is clearly supported by the people he represents.
In 2006, Mark Gilstrap chose to support the re-election of former Attorney General Phill Kline, a choice that did not sit well with the Sebelius or Hensley. They have adopted the tactics of conservative Republicans by supporting Gilstrap's opponent in the Democrat primary. While I personally disagree with Mark's choice of Kline, I adamantly support his right to associate and vote for whom he wants
The absolutism of the governor and Hensley impinges on Gilstrap's rights, is divisive within the Democrat Party, and tramples the American ideal of freedom of speech and association.
Sen. Chris Steineger,
Kansas City, Kan.