Kansas Equality Coalition criticizes 2 state legislators

? A group that advocates for gays and lesbians on Tuesday blasted two legislators, saying they are working to keep in state law a statute that has been declared unconstitutional.

The two legislators, state Reps. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, and Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, said the criticism from the Kansas Equality Coalition was off base.

The dispute is over language in House Bill 2321. During a committee meeting Tuesday, Pauls, with Kinzer’s support, kept in language that criminalizes gay and lesbian relationships despite a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down such laws.

Thomas Witt, state chairman of the Kansas Equality Coalition, said Pauls and Kinzer should be stripped of their leadership positions on the House Judiciary Committee because they “willfully ignore the Constitution.”

Pauls and Kinzer said the unconstitutional statute wasn’t being enforced and language to repeal it was contained in another bill.

The Hutchinson chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition is organizing a demonstration to raise awareness about Pauls’ actions on March 17 in Hutchinson.

“We are fed up with her obvious support of harassment of gays and lesbians,” said Jon Powell, chair of the Hutchinson chapter of the KEC.