July 9th, 2015
The last state in the Union to hold out offering state services to gay citizens has capitulated. Kansas held off for nearly two weeks while they “studied” the Obergefell Supreme Court ruling to see whether and how it applied to the state’s various departments.
Governor Sam Brownback, a fierce opponent of treating gay citizens with equality or decency, refused to direct the state’s various divisions to apply the law. He chose instead to issue an executive order that the state ignore any anti-gay discrimination by religious entities that contract with the state to provide taxpayer provided services such as adoption. Lacking direction from the executive branch, compliance with Obergefell has been spotty.
Earlier in the week, most state services had been revised. On Tuesday, state employees were informed that they can add same-sex spouses to their retirement and health plans and that married couples can change their names on their state identity cards.
But the Department of Revenue had still not agreed that a Kansas breadwinner could add her wife and children as dependents on her income taxes. But finally that barrier has fallen and it now appears that every state now recognizes same-sex marriages as valid and equal (bnd.com)
The disclosure of the policy change was made in a filing Thursday asking U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree to dismiss a lawsuit filed last year by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of gay and lesbian couples.
The state’s lawyers submitted an affidavit from Department of Revenue policy director Richard Cram. He said the agency’s policy against joint tax returns for same-sex couples is no longer valid.
Kansas marriages begin
November 12th, 2014
Dark purple – marriages now may occur
Light Purple – states are in circuits which have found for marriage equality
Red – the Sixth Circuit has upheld the bans on equality in these states
The state of Kansas has run out of measures by which to prevent the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court just chose to deny stay in their latest appeal. Only two justices, Scalia and Thomas indicated a desire to have the judicial ruling overturning Kansas’ anti-gay marriage ban put on hold until heard by the highest court.
There are many ways to read this decision. Perhaps the likeliest is that seven justices agree that the court is unlikely to rule with the Sixth Circuit that states may prohibit gay citizens from sharing the same access to civil proceedings as heterosexual citizens. Also, that only two justices are so vehemently anti-gay as to spitefully wish to force gay Kansans to wait for their day of equality.
Personally, I think it also suggests that this may not be a 5-4 decision when it is finally decided.
Meanwhile, also today a federal judge ruled that South Carolina’s anti-gay ban violates the constitution. He has placed a temporary stay until the 20th for that state to request a more permanent stay from either the Fourth Circuit or the Supreme Court. Based on the Kansas decision, it is safe to assume that such a stay will not be granted.
And Kansas makes 33
November 4th, 2014
Kansas is in the Tenth Circuit, which has ruled anti-gay marriage bans unconstitutional. The Supreme Court opted not to hear an appeal to that ruling, which establishes that states within the Tenth Circuit are bound by the Appeals Court’s ruling.
Same-sex couples requested that the federal courts direct Kansas to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and now a federal judge has done so. (Topeka Capital-Journal:)
Judge Daniel Crabtree, in a written ruling, granted a preliminary injunction that had been sought by the ACLU of Kansas on behalf of two lesbian couples who had been denied marriage licenses in Sedgwick and Douglas counties. The injunction will prevent the state from enforcing the ban on same-sex marriage found in the Kansas Constitution.
However, marriages will not begin immediately. Crabtree stayed the injunction until 5 p.m. on Nov. 11.
The state has a week to appeal Judge Crabtree’s decision, which – by all accounts – would be a waste of time and state resources. Should they inform him earlier that they will not appeal, the stay will be lifted at that time.
The odds are that Governor Sam Brownback will happily waste the taxpayers’ money on a futile attempt to appeal so as to grandstand on the issue. However, as the election is today, it’s possible that he’ll not see any political value to foolish, time-consuming, wasteful, quixotic efforts and will allow couples to marry sooner than next Tuesday.
The Most Momentous Supreme Court Non-Decision Ever Made
October 6th, 2014
With today’s Supreme Court non-decision, about 53% of all Americans now live in jurisdictions with marriage equality. That’s twenty-four states and the District of Columbia. Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Utah will open their clerk offices to same-sex couples as soon as the various Federal District Courts go through their formalities. Those formalities are already out of the way in Colorado, Oklahoma, Virginia and Utah. Things are happening so fast I wouldn’t be surprised if Indiana gets the go-ahead before I finish writing this post. Meanwhile, you can expect that Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming will follow suit any day now, since they too are now bound by the decisions already handed down in the in the 4th Circuit, 7th Circuit, and 10th Circuit Courts of Appeals.
The biggest wild card remains the Sixth Circuit, which heard oral arguments last August in a Michigan challenge to that state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That court also heard oral arguments from four other states — Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee — challenging those states’ bans on recognizing legal marriages from out of state. If the Sixth Circuit goes all contrarian and upholds any of those bans, then we could expect the issue to be dropped once again at the Supreme Court’s footsteps.
And to think that barely over a decade ago, our relationships were still criminalized in fourteen states.
Now, it’s possible that the three-judge panel in Cincinnati may rule against marriage equality. It’s also conceivable that a three-judge panel in the Fifth, Eighth and Eleventh Circuits could uphold a same-sex marriage ban in, say, Louisiana, for example.
But if one did, it seems much more likely that the entire circuit would step in for an en banc decision. But even if that didn’t happen, then sure, maybe an anti-equality decision could conceivably make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But by then, some two-thirds or more of all Americans are likely to be living in marriage equality states. Would the Supreme Court go back and overturn all of that? That now seems preposterous. Today’s non-decision is the new law of the land.
Is Arizona a Turning Point?
February 27th, 2014
It would appear that the outcry over Arizona’s license-to-discriminate bill that was finally vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer last night may have reached something of a high water mark. Major companies, business group, professional organizations, and major league sports all came out with strong statements denouncing the bill in the moments leading up to Brewer’s veto. Typical was this one from Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman:
SB 1062 would serve to create an environment where consumers would not know how they would be treated – or whether they would even be served – when they patronize a business. This bill goes against the rule that every great business subscribes to, which is that the customer is always right. It will not only be bad for customers, but also bad for local business in the state. I also believe that it would be in consumers’ interests to be made aware of businesses within the state that did engage in discriminatory behavior. Since early 2010, Yelp has hired over 650 employees in Arizona. Over the next few years, we hope to hire hundreds more. It would be unconscionable for the state to encourage discrimination against any of them.
Arizona joins three other states in putting an end to their license-to-discriminate bills in just the past twenty-four hours:
- Sponsors of Ohio’s license-to-discriminate bill withdrew their support yesterday. Moments later, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee announced that the bill was dead.
- The Mississippi House of Representatives Civil Subcommittee late yesterday voted to strike almost all of the provisions of their license-to-discriminate bill, leaving only a provision adding “In God We Trust” to the state seal. This move came after the state Senate gave its unanimous approval in January.
- Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced yesterday that he will veto a proposed license-to-discriminate bill if it reaches his desk. Earlier that day, he had refused to address the question during an interview on MSNBC.
Over the past several weeks, license-to-discriminate bills have been defeated or withdrawn in Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Tennessee, and Utah. But we’re not out of the woods yet. Similar bills are still working their way through Idaho, Missouri, South Dakota, and Georgia, where Atlanta-based Delta Airlines has announced its opposition. The Idaho bill was returned to a House committee last week, with the sponsor saying he wants to “find the right language.” In addition, there’s a push to put a similar measure on the ballot in Oregon in November.
Kansas anti-gay bill killed
February 19th, 2014
Last week the Kansas House of Representatives passed a broad and sweeping bill to “protect the religious beliefs” of individuals and businesses who object to same sex marriage and who wish to discriminate against gay couples. In addition to providing that businesses need not provide the commercial trappings of marriage to gay couples, it also allowed individuals – whether in a private capacity or as an employee of a business or even a civil servant – the right to claim religious exemption from providing the services of their company or of the state. In a final ‘gotcha’, it excluded same sex couples from the right within the state to sue for discrimination.
The Kansas House, comprised mostly of Republicans, voted 72 to 49 for the bill. What happened next is interesting.
As could be expected, civil libertarians, civil rights activists, and supporters of gay equality all decried the bill. And legal scholars pointed out that after Romer v Evans, excluding a class of individuals from the right to legal recourse was on it’s face unconstitutional.
But, nevertheless, most pundits expected the Kansas Senate, also controlled by Republicans, to pull out a big rubber stamp and join in on the bacchanalia of bigotry.
Surprisingly, they did not.
It seems that the GOP Senators, unlike the GOP Representatives, took a look at their political alliances, their hope for a future reputation, and the implications of this bill on the Republican brand, saw this for what it was: an invitation to treat gay people cruely. And the bill now appears dead. (NY Times)
Susan Wagle, a conservative Republican who is president of the Kansas Senate, raised opposition to the House measure, saying she had “grown concerned about the practical impact of the bill” and “my members don’t condone discrimination.”
Ms. Wagle was backed by Senator Jeff King, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who said he would not hold hearings on the House bill.
But it was not merely Wagle’s conscience that led to the bill’s demise. It was also the objections of Business and Religion.
As written, the bill would put employers – especially small businesses – in an awkward and complicated and likely expensive position. Staffing would be based on the personal beliefs of employees rather than on the needs of the market and in a less-than-stellar economy this was a burden that could kill a company with only a few employees.
Opponents included the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, which said that the measure could lead to increased costs for businesses. The chamber took particular exception to a provision in the bill that said that if an employee of the government or “other nonreligious entity” objected to providing a service based on religious beliefs, the employer would have to find another employee to fill in or find some other way to provide the service.
Businesses were “not interested in getting into these guessing games as to someone’s intent and whether a strongly held religious belief is legitimate or not,” said Mike O’Neal, the president of the chamber.
And the claim about “protecting religious beliefs” was damaged by strong opposition to the bill by some religious groups. The Episcopal Church led the religious opposition in the strongest terms. (HuffPo)
For Episcopalians, our faith is unequivocal. Our Baptismal Covenant asks, “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?” Promising to strive for justice and peace among all people and to respect the dignity of every human being requires us to be adamantly opposed to legislation that does none of these things.
Our biblically based faith calls us to live out the command of Jesus Christ to love one another. You cannot love your fellow Kansans and deny them the rights that belong to everyone else.
And they were not alone. Less conservative churches are now increasingly speaking up to counter the message that faith is universally anti-gay. (UPI)
Many ministers in the state oppose the bill and say it has nothing to do with religious freedom. Kate McGee of Presbyterian Trinity Church in Topeka, Aaron Roberts of Colonial Church in Prairie Village and Chad Herring of John Knox Kirk in Kansas City, Mo., joined forces Friday to lobby against it.
McGee said religious beliefs should not be codified in Kansas law.
“If businesses rejected sinners, they would have no customers,” McGee said. “They themselves wouldn’t be able to shop in their own businesses. Where does it stop?”
Some form of bill may yet arise in the Kansas Senate. Sen. King has said that while no substitute bill is in the wings, he’ll hold hearings to see if any additional protections are needed. But it is a sign of our eminent equality that Business, Religion, and the GOP Senate aligned to kill this anti-gay bill.
February 14th, 2014
In something out of Kansas called The Rolla Daily News, Jim Brock rants about the proposed pro-discrimination bill. He doesn’t think it’s very Christian:
I guess some members of the Kansas House never read Matthew 25:40-45: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'”
The holy words of Bible can be so inconvenient, especially when they don’t come from Exodus or Leviticus.
Kansas lawmaker objects to non-discrimination in safe houses
January 8th, 2014
Here’s a tiny little story out of Kansas (Wichita Eagle)
Daric Smith, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s program director for child placing and residential programs, came before the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and Regulations on Tuesday to tell legislators how the department planned to implement the law.
Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, asked Smith why sexual orientation was included with gender and race in the nondiscrimination categories for admission to the secure facilities. She said state statutes don’t include sexual orientation among attributes for which Kansans are protected from discrimination.
“Anything that’s not under our discrimination statutes should be dropped out of the definitions of what legal discrimination is,” said Pauls, who helped author Kansas’ constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Most often when there is an objection to a positive policy, it’s a conservative Republican opposing an action or decision by a Democratic administration. But in this case, a Democratic lawmaker is so hostile to gay people that she is objecting to an action of the administration of one of the nation’s lease supportive Republicans, Gov. Sam Brownback.
Which reminds us that we must remain vigilant and not forget that anti-gay animus can come from any party or place.
Christians Had A Tip for One Kansas Waiter
October 25th, 2013
A 20-year-old waiter at a Carrabba’s in Overland Park, Kansas got a lovely note from Christian customers:
Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to GOD. Queers do not share in the wealth of GOD, and you will not share in ours. We hope you will see the tip your fag choices made you lose out on, and plan accordingly. It is never too late for GOD’S love, but none shall be spared for fags. May GOD have mercy on you.
I had to search around for an unexpurgated version. The source I originally found here decided to eliminate the words queer and fag from its report lest they offend their viewers delicate hears. But this is the kind of thing that demands offense simply because that offense is story, not the fact that yet another waiter in America was stiffed a tip.
Of course, when it comes to Christians or Christianity, not all of them are like that. But throughout history, these kinds of Christians have had a way of defining Christianity down for everyone else. The community is falling behind this waiter, making special trips to Carrabba’s and asking to be seated in his section so they can personally encourage and tip him. KCTV reports that people on social media are encouraging everyone to go to Carrabba’s today to show their support for the waiter. Wouldn’t it be nice of some of them weren’t just NALT Christians, but also “Like Them” Christians who nevertheless can clearly see the un-Christianness of this behavior.
New FMA proposal has four flat tires and a busted radiator
June 28th, 2013
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) saw the DOMA decision as an opportunity, his ride out of obscurity. So he was the first to trot out with an announcement the he, Rep Huelskamp, would be introducing a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Surely this is a proposal that will fire up the base, get him in the spotlight, and soon he’d be cruising the political fast lane in a pink Cadillac with white-wall tires.
But so far it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride. Turns out that not even red state Republicans are ready to climb on board. Not even his fellow Kansans. Not even his own district.
One local state representative didn’t have an opinion because its “a federal matter and he is a state legislator” (oddly, most Republicans in Washington had the opposite opinion). His local GOP Chairman “was in county commission meetings all day yesterday” so he wasn’t following the news.
But the best response had to be this one: (HuffPo)
State Rep. J.R. Claeys (R-Salina) stressed that a gay marriage ban is not a “legislative priority of mine” and said he doesn’t see a chance for Huelskamp’s amendment ever passing. Asked if he believes Huelskamp should have made the proposal, Claeys answered: “I am not sure how to diplomatically sidestep this question.”
So to Huelskamp, I offer this advice: yeah, about that political clunker you have on cinder-blocks in your front yard… you may want to lose that, you’re bringing down property values in the neighborhood.
Westboro Baptist has candidate running for Kansas School Board
November 6th, 2012
IN the 1990’s the Kansas State Board of Education became the front line in the battle over the origins of the universe. Control went back and forth between various factions, with each changing the standards to fit their ideology.
But things came to a head in 2005 when the Board held hearings on the teaching of Intelligent Design. Recognizing that the hearings were for show (the ID supporters held a 6-4 majority), the scientific community opted not to participate. At the end of a week of Intelligent Design support, the Board concluded that evolution is “an unproven, often disproven” theory.
It wasn’t a bright shining moment for Kansas and the citizens were not thrilled to be portrayed nationally as nutbag extremists.
In August 2006, six conservatives were replaced by Democrats or moderate Republicans and in 2007 the Board voted to bring Kansas’ education in line with scientific consensus, free of theistic explanations. The Board has been controlled by moderate Republicans and Democrats since, and that is not going to change this year.
But they may well find themselves back in the news as an embarrassment. (NECN)
Jack Wu, a Topeka computer programmer, made opposition to teaching evolution the cornerstone of his campaign as the Republican nominee in the 4th District in northeast Kansas against Democratic incumbent Carolyn Campbell, also from Topeka. Wu described evolution as “Satanic lies” and said on a website that public schools were preparing students to be “liars, crooks, thieves, murderers, and perverts.”
Wu also raised eyebrows by saying that he was lured to Kansas from California in 2008 by Westboro Baptist. The Topeka church, led by the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., is known internationally for picketing with anti-gay slogans and proclaiming that American soldiers’ deaths are God’s punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality. Wu is not formally a member, but he’s attended services regularly.
“I consider the people at Westboro Baptist Church good friends so it’s a very friendly and very helpful relationship,” Wu said in an October email, responding to questions about his affiliation. “I learn a lot from them, a lot of truth.”
The Republican Party leadership disavowed Wu, bringing an answer to the question, “Is there anything so wing-nut and anti-gay that even Sam Brownback won’t support it?” Surprisingly, there is.
Two Men Attacked In Wichita, KS
September 6th, 2011
Sgt. Jesse Boomer said two cars pulled up beside the 18- and 19-year-olds walking in the 1700 block of east Douglas, near Hydraulic, around 2:30 a.m. Six men, all in their late teens or early 20s, got out of the cars, accused the two men of “being homosexuals” and attacked them, Boomer said. The victims drove themselves to a local hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries and released.
Kansas to Keep Unconstitutional Sodomy Law On the Books
March 9th, 2011
Congressional Republicans aren’t the only ones seeking to defend an unconstitutional anti-gay law. In Kansas, the ranking Republican and Democrat on the state’s House Judiciary Committee confirmed that they intend to leave Kansas’s law criminalizing gay sex on the books, even though the statute is unenforceable due to the 2003 Supreme Court decision overturning sodomy laws nationwide.
A clean-up bill was making its way through the committee when Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe) and Rep. Jan Pauls (D-Hutchinson) agreed to remove a provision that would have repealed the unconstitutional law. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, “(Pauls) said this controversial provision related to homosexual activity might have prompted the Legislature to reject the entire bill, which was a risk she didn’t want to take.”
Equality Kansas is calling for a march on March 17 in downtown Hutchinson, Kansas.
DADT Discharges Continue
February 8th, 2009
The Kansas National Guard has discharged its first soldier under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”:
Amy Brian, who served nine years in the Guard, including a stint in Iraq, was investigated and “separated” last month after a civilian co-worker told authorities they had seen her kissing a woman in a Wal-Mart checkout line.
Brian joins almost 12,500 other lesbian, gay and bisexual service members discharged from 1994 to 2007.
Update: In a more detailed article from the Associated Press, Brian joined the Guard in 1991, serving until 1994. She re-enlisted in 2003 and was sent to Iraq.
During her first six months in Iraq, she was part of a maintenance crew at Camp Anaconda at Balad, working 12-hour shifts beside other American troops and civilians from other countries. She later was asked to narrate award ceremonies, write evaluations and do office work. “Everyone I went with (to Iraq) knew I was gay, and no one had a problem with it,” she said.
…But last July another gay Guardsman told Brian “somebody has it in for you” and recommended she delete her MySpace page, which indicated she was a lesbian.
All too often, DADT is nothing more than a weapon for revenge and incrimination. How does that help unit cohesion?
Heterosexual Menace: Shock Collars, Shootings, Incest — But No Gay Adoption
February 2nd, 2009
From Xenia, Ohio, we have a father who disciplined his children by using shock collars:
The Caesarscreek Twp. man who used a shock collar and water torture to discipline three of his four children was sentenced to 16 years in prison by Greene County Common Pleas Court Judge J. Timothy Campbell Monday. David O. Liskany, 39, of Hussey Road, was sentenced to six years each for two counts of second-degree felonious assault and to four years for one count of third-degree attempted felonious assault.
“The only thing you didn’t do was wrap their faces in cheesecloth. They basically were waterboarded,” Campbell said before handing down his sentence, which was far harsher than the 4 years in prison recommended by state probation authorities. According to Campbell, Liskany abused three of his four children — who were 13, 11 and four at the time of the abuse — by using a dog’s shock collar on them, holding them underwater, subjecting them to cold showers and spraying water up their noses.
Authorities found out when the older boy ran away from home, walking fifteen miles to a relative. Liskany’s ex-wife Wendy Liskany pleaded for the court to not jail her ex-husband. “I don’t feel that incarcerating him will help,” she said.
Maybe Liskany had to use such creative measures because they spoiled their children when they were younger. These parents from New York were determined not to make that mistake:
A 5-month-old child is in critical condition Saturday in what police suspect is a child abuse case. Police say they have charged the girl’s father, Scott Archbold, 41, with causing the injuries including multiple bone fractures, internal bleeding and signs of prior abuse. Christina Benjamin, (above right) the infant’s mother, has been charged with child endangerment for allegedly failing to get the child medical attention after the infant’s grandmother suspected the abuse.
But at least Liskany and the Archbold-Benjamins didn’t just kill their entire families outright.
Armed with a handgun, [Ervin Antonio] Lupoe evidently roamed room to room starting as early as Monday evening, fatally shooting his wife and five young children — including two sets of twins.
Early Tuesday, Lupoe faxed a bitter, rambling two-page letter to a local television station blaming his employer for his actions. Though his wife and children were already dead, he also called the station threatening to kill his family, investigators believe. He followed this up with an incongruous call to police saying that he had returned home and that “my whole family has been shot.”
Fortunately, not all heterosexuals are so violent. This father loved his daughter so much, he had four children by her. He didn’t care much for his grandchildren-children though:
The father, Danial Rinehart, 47, is scheduled to appear in court Thursday. Authorities say three of the four babies he fathered by the second-oldest daughter, who is now 19, are dead. A 3-year-old boy is alive and in state custody. Rinehart is charged with second-degree felony murder, child endangerment, two counts of incest and two counts of abandonment of a corpse. The remains of two infants were found in chest-type coolers.
His wife, Linda Rinehart, is charged with child endangerment. Authorities say she was jealous of the relationship between her husband and daughter but helped with the babies’ deliveries.
Obviously, we need to put a stop to this sort of abusive family dynamics. That’s why a Tennessee state legislator is introducing legislation to ban adoption by same-sex parents. It’s also why a West Virginia judge thinks a 2-year-old girl would be much better off if she were ripped from the only parents she has ever known. Her lesbian fostor parents have cared for her since birth and now want to adopt her.