Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kansas: Pleas for fairness dominate hearing on bill banning domestic partner registries

By Diane Silver

I've really gotta learn how to do this blogger thing. Today I headed off to Topeka to cover a hearing on the proposed ban on domestic partner registries, and what did I do? I left my laptop in the trunk of my car.

I spent the day covering things with pen and notebook, feeling a bit like I was still in the 19th Century. That may well be an appropriate emotion given the attitudes of some of the anti-gay lawmakers in the Statehouse.

I'm finally home in Lawrence and here is a very late and slightly inadequate report on the hearing before the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.

The good news is that opponents of the proposed ban far out-numbered supporters. The ban, by the way, is a preemptive strike designed to keep Lawrence from passing a registry.

I don't know why so few proponents of the bill showed up. One even signed up to testify and then cancelled. Perhaps supporters believe they can't lose and, thus, didn't think they had to testify. Perhaps, though, few folks care about banning what is really nothing more than a list of names except for Republican, ultraconservative Lance Kinzer of Olathe, who is sponsoring the bill.

Either way, only Kinzer spoke in favor of the proposal. Seven people spoke against it and two submitted written testimony, including representatives of the city of Lawrence. The audience also included a couple of dozen opponents of the ban. I didn't identify any supporters in the audience. If they were there, they were very quiet.

The testimony of gay supporters ranged from nit-picking legalisms to passionate expressions of anger and pleas for equality, or at the very least, fairness. Among those testifying were representatives of the Kansas Equality Coalition, a Lawrence businessman who wants to offer domestic partner benefits and a Lawrence lesbian couple. Tomorrow I'll post details of the testimony.

The committee did not immediately take action on the bill. Although several committee members obviously opposed the ban, a majority are expected to favor it. Stay tuned for further developments.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your update, Diane. The Lawrence Channel 6 news covered it and showed some of the testimony (Bruce Ney, Kinzer, and Deb Taylor).

Actually, I saw you there on the front row!

It should be in the LJW tomorrow morning. But I bet your coverage will be better! :-)

Lori M

Diane Silver said...

I'm truly tired, or else I would post more tonight. I do plan to post as much word-for-word testimony as I can stand to type up. We need to see these stories in print. More people need to understand why a registry is important and how it threatens no one.

Honestly, there is nothing you can say about this bill except that it is mean spirited.

Oh, and thanks for the nice words!