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Archive for Thursday, March 10, 2011

House Judiciary Committee won’t remove gay sex ban from Kansas law

March 10, 2011

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Efforts to repeal a Kansas law that criminalizes homosexual sex were blocked by a powerful legislative committee even though the law has been ruled unconstitutional and isn't being enforced.

The House Judiciary Committee was considering legislation designed to cleanup language in the state's criminal code when the panel's top Republican and Democrat removed a provision that would have repealed the law.

Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, made a motion this week to delete the repeal, and the motion was seconded by Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe. Both lawmakers said it seemed unnecessary since the law wasn't being enforced.

Pauls expressed concern that some lawmakers might reject the entire bill if the repeal was included. She said the issue could be addressed in a bill in the Senate that would decriminalize sodomy between people age 16 or older who are of the same sex, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

But a Legislative Research staff member told The Hutchinson News that the Senate bill is "languishing" in a Senate committee and isn't on its way to a full vote in either chamber, although that could change before lawmakers adjourn in the spring.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that state laws criminalizing homosexual sex were not enforceable. But Kansas lawmakers must vote to actually remove the law from statute books.

Kansas' law sends a harsh message to homosexual couples living in the state, said Thomas Witt, chairman of the Kansas Equity Coalition, which works to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Witt wants House leadership to remove Kinzer as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and Pauls as its ranking Democrat.

"Representative Pauls' endorsement of an unconstitutional statute that's used to threaten and discriminate against law-abiding Kansas citizens is an outrage," Witt said.

Kinzer, calling the issue a "tempest in a teapot," said the law isn't being enforced and homosexuals are not being threatened with arrest.

"I don't think it would make any difference," Kinzer said. "The statute is unenforceable."

Pauls agreed that a repeal was unnecessary, saying House members unhappy with the committee's version of the bill could offer amendments on the House floor.

"It's a policy discussion we thought that the Legislature should have, as far as whether or not to repeal that," Pauls told The Hutchinson News.

Pauls also said she was concerned that some lawmakers might have voted to reject the entire criminal codes bill if the repeal was included, and she didn't want to take that risk.

Jon Powell, chair of the Hutchinson chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition, said gays and lesbians in Pauls' district won't be "bullied" by legislators who won't defend the Kansas Constitution.

"Jan Pauls was trusted to be a judge before becoming a state representative and should know better than to support unconstitutional laws," Powell said.

He said his chapter of the organization will demonstrate March 17 in downtown Hutchinson in opposition to Pauls' position.

Comments

Clark Coan 3 years, 9 months ago

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

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 9 months ago

Now we know where the Phelpses base of support lies.

JP462 3 years, 9 months ago

You sure want to REMOVE OBAMACARE from law AND we had to have a CONSTITUTIONAL AMMENDENT to DEFINE MARRIAGE...

But this is NO BIGGIE....

YOUR ARE ALL BIGOTS...

COPS ON THE STREETS DO NOT HAVE THE LUXURY TO DETERMINE IF A LAW IS NOT ENFORCEABLE...

THESE 2 SMUCKS KNOW THIS-- PAULS ESPECIALLY--SHE WAS A JUDGE..

WHATS NEXT??? ITS A SLIPPERY SLOPE WHEN WE DONT FOLLOW THE SUPREME COURT!

SHAME ON ANYONE WHO DOESNT STAND UP AND SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!

thebigspoon 3 years, 9 months ago

Enough is enough. Unfortunately, only the legislature can act to make a change, and this one is bound to drag us back to the dark ages. Thanks, Kansas, for electing these guys. And thanks, Mr. Brownback, for being the point guy for social and economic disaster.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 9 months ago

Bad, bad, bad. Gays need to be afforded exactly the same rights and respect as any other member of society. This is 2011 folks.

Jake Esau 3 years, 9 months ago

When a law is unenforceable, why keep it on the books?

citizen4honor 3 years, 9 months ago

What about this Lawrence Kansas Laws? All cars entering the city limits must first sound their horn to warn the horses of their arrival.

Or these? In Lawrence, Kansas, it is forbidden for anyone to carry bees in their hat, while on the city streets. In McLough, Kansas, it is against the law to wash your false teeth in a public drinking fountain. In Natoma, Kansas, it is illegal to practise knife throwing at men wearing striped suits. In Russel, Kansas, it is against the law to have an musical car horn. More you say? Hitting a vending machine that stole your money is illegal. (Derby) Persons may not "screech" their tires while driving. (Derby) Riding an animal down any road is against the law. (Derby) It is illegal to spit on a sidewalk. (Dodge City) All places of business must provide a horse water troth (Dodge City) Any person caught using or carrying bean snappers or the like shall upon conviction, be fined. (Wichita)

There are hundreds of laws on the books that are not currently enforceable.
This is nothing more than Kansas Equity Coalition creating "value" for itself - else it may cease to exist. If there is no conflict - no coalition is required.

Joseph Jarvis 3 years, 9 months ago

@75x55: It's a collection of groups across the state, hence it is indeed literally a coalition. As a member of their Lawrence affiliate, I can vouch that it is grassroots. P.S. Thanks for your public disrespect; how civil.

coderob 3 years, 9 months ago

"In Natoma, Kansas, it is illegal to practise knife throwing at men wearing striped suits."

Do you know of anyone who was afraid to tell his mother that he wears striped suits? Or, are there bee hat wearers unable to marry because of who they are? Institutionalized homophobia is very different from antiquated laws. Repealing this law may not change much in practice, but its repeal is an important gesture of acceptance to all the queer Kansans out there.

But your message at least makes me think and hope that one day laws against gay people (like article 15, section 16 of the Kansas constitution) will be seen as something just as silly as an old law.

Joseph Jarvis 3 years, 9 months ago

@citizen4honor: I saw your similar comment at the Capital-Journal as well. First, those other unenforceable and wacky laws don't criminalize a historically oppressed minority community. And bean snapping is far from a fundamental human experience like choosing your mate. Second, the legislature was updating the code and went out of its way not to correct this one. Third, removing the symbolic criminalization of your identity is not an empty survival tactic for a minority lobby; if anything, that seems to be the core of what a group like KEC exists to do. Fourth, I agree that if there were no conflict, no coalition would be required. Regrettably, the Jan Paulses and Lance Kinzers and people like you of the world seek to keep it.

sallyone 3 years, 9 months ago

Eeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwww, just thinking about that gives me the heebbe jeebbes!

Joseph Jarvis 3 years, 9 months ago

@sallyone: You wouldn't have to if people with your "ick" response didn't legislate their morality on gays and lesbians.

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