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Gay Marriage Ban & Lawrence

This article appeared in the local paper after NetworQ sponsored a public forum about the vote on the same-sex marriage amendment in Kansas:

Most candidates oppose gay marriage ban,
vow it won’t affect city law

Lawrence Journal World

// // //

February 24, 2005

A Lawrence ordinance that bans most discrimination against homosexuals won’t be changed even if a statewide constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages is approved, eight of nine City Commission candidates vowed Wednesday.

At a forum hosted by NetworQ, a group representing the Douglas County gay and lesbian community, most Lawrence City Commission candidates said they were strongly opposed to a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. Voters will decide the issue during the April 5 general election.

“If the goal is to preserve the institution of marriage, there are so many ways to do that other than creating second-class citizens out of otherwise wonderful, productive citizens of the community,” City Commissioner David Schauner said.

All eight candidates who attended the forum at the Lawrence Public Library said the statewide vote would do nothing to cause them to change a 1995 city ordinance that protects homosexuals from discrimination in employment and housing matters in the city. David Holroyd, the ninth City Commission candidate, did not attend the forum.

Schauner went a step further and said he would support the city becoming part of a future lawsuit to challenge the federal constitutionality of the amendment. City Commissioner Sue Hack said she also would be open to that possibility.

“It truly does break my heart that a state born of tolerance is showing such intolerance to its residents,” Hack said. “It is particularly painful in Lawrence.”

Although they ruled out changing the city’s ordinance, candidates Mike Amyx and George Grieb did not specifically tell the audience of about 40 people whether they supported the statewide amendment. Other candidates, though, all took a stand against the ban proposal.

Doug Holiday called the amendment “silly,” and said it sounded like it was written by Fred Phelps, a Topeka pastor who frequently protests against homosexuality. Jim Carpenter said the state should provide support for all “loving, stable relationships.” Greg Robinson said the issue involved “bigotry,” and Tom Bracciano said the idea of legislating marriage was a “foreign” concept to him because marriage is a covenant between “two people and God.”

Kim Kreicker, vice chairwoman of NetworQ, said she was pleased to hear what candidates had to say about the issue. She said she particularly welcomed comments about the city possibly becoming involved in a legal challenge of the amendment.

“We would welcome a city challenge of this issue,” Kreicker said. “Lawrence has always been a little different than the rest of the state, and we’re proud of that.”

The nearly two-hour forum also included questions about more traditional city issues, such as growth and development, roundabout usage and affordable housing.

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