Battles rage over gay rights in 4 states bordering Missouri
Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas face issues
February 8, 2005
TOPEKA, Kan. – Homosexual activists continue to fight for marriage and other special rights in four states bordering Missouri. Significant developments in recent days in Kansas, Illinois, Arkansas and Iowa indicate that the issues surrounding special rights for homosexuals is far from settled in America’s heartland:
• Kansas legislators passed a constitutional marriage amendment Feb. 2, sending it to the state’s voters for an April 5 vote and providing pro-family groups an opportunity for another win in the national debate over same-sex “marriage.”
Needing a two-thirds majority of 83 votes the amendment passed the Kansas House 86-37. It already had passed the state Senate.
“We’re in for an incredible battle here,” Wichita pastor Terry Fox told Baptist Press, referring to the April vote. “We’re going to have to work hard and pray a lot.”
Kansas’ amendment also bans both same-sex “marriage” and civil unions. Fox and social conservatives in Kansas can empathize with those in Idaho: Last summer the Kansas legislature also defeated a marriage amendment — shocking many in that conservative state.
“I’ve given a solid year of my life to this cause,” Fox, pastor of Wichita’s Immanuel Baptist Church, said. “My church has been extremely involved.
“Kansas is in the heartland of America, and the liberals know that if they can defeat a marriage amendment here and redefine marriage, you can kiss the national constitutional marriage amendment goodbye,” said Fox, a supporter of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
During the past year Fox has been one of the state’s most vocal amendment supporters.
“Now that we have won, the e-mails and the anger from the homosexual community has intensified even in the last two hours,” he said shortly after the amendment passed the House. “I’ve had e-mails with bodily threats toward me. We’ve had threats to burn our church building down in the last few days.”
• Meanwhile, Illinois churches are protesting a new state law that bars them from “discriminating” against homosexuals, contending it robs Christians of their First Amendment freedoms.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the bill into law recently. It adds “sexual orientation” to the state law that bars discrimination based on race, religion and similar traits in areas such as jobs and housing.
Illinois is the 15th state to prohibit discrimination based on “sexual orientation.”
The law applies to organizations or businesses with more than 15 employees.
• The House Education Committee of the Arkansas legislature has recommended a bill requiring Arkansas textbooks to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
The bill now goes to the House chamber for consideration. The measure requires new textbooks that include definitions of marriage must define it as between a man and a woman and shall not include definitions that are contrary to the state constitution.
• The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments Jan. 14 in the case of a lesbian couple who were granted a “divorce” in the state — despite the fact that Iowa does not recognize same-sex “marriage.”
In November 2003 Iowa state Judge Jeffrey Neary granted a lesbian couple a “divorce,” not realizing that they were involved in a Vermont civil union, and not a marriage. But upon learning of his mistake, he allowed the ruling to stand as-is.
“The district court clearly exceeded its jurisdiction in dissolving a Vermont civil union that Iowa does not even recognize,” ADF senior legal counsel Kevin Theriot said. “We are asking the justices to set aside the lower court’s ruling.”
The justices questioned whether the lawmakers have legal standing in the case, the Des Moines Register reported. A ruling is expected this spring.
Vermont law requires at least one member of the couple to live in Vermont for one year before a civil union is dissolved. Because of that, an unknown number of out-of-state couples have split up without dissolving their civil union.