Press

The Task Force Condemns Kansas Vote Approving Anti-Marriage Constitutional Amendment

Date: 
April 06, 2005

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Condemns Kansas Vote Approving Anti-Marriage Constitutional Amendment

State is 18th to Adopt Anti-Marriage Amendment

Task Force Calls Upon "People of Faith and Good Will to Speak Out and Fight these Immoral Attacks"

WASHINGTON, DC, April 5 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force condemned today's 70% to 30% vote by Kansans in favor of a constitutional amendment banning the recognition of same sex marriages and other, more limited forms of partner recognition. The Task Force said it was dismayed by the continued, widespread silence and inaction of so many faith and political leaders and people of good will in response to the wave of anti-gay organizing that continues to sweep the country.

"Our nation is continuing to witness something that has not happened since our constitution was first ratified in 1791 — essentially a national referendum inviting the public to vote to deprive a small minority of Americans of rights that the majority takes for granted and sees as fundamental," said Matt Foreman, the Task Force's Executive Director. "Not only are these amendment votes unjust and immoral, so is the silence and inaction of so many people who see themselves as enlightened, unprejudiced, and supporters of equal rights for all people. As the cascade of lies pours forth from the America's Anti-Gay Industry, we need, we expect, and morality demands that people of faith and good will all across the nation to speak out in the same way and with the same vehemence as they would if it was another minority under attack. If they do not, they will look back 20 or 30 years from now with deserved shame."

The Task Force praised Kansans for Fairness, the leading group opposing the amendment – and its Campaign Manager Braidy O'Neal and Chair Bruce Nye – for going forward with a very direct message that the amendment was wrong and for organizing a broad array of clergy to say clearly that 'persons of Biblical faith can vote only to oppose such an amendment.' These messages clearly touched the conscience of many voters, with the election results better than many predicted. An early poll had shown the measure would pass with at least 80% of the vote.

Proponents of the amendment, including One Voice of Kansas, outspent opponents by a margin of three-to-one. As of March 23, proponents had raised at least $160,000, most of it from out-of-state, including $100,000 from the Knights of Columbus' national office and $23,000 from Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, CO. This figure does not include resources spent by a wide array of evangelical churches in the state.

Kansans for Fairness raised and spent approximately $50,000, including a donation of $13,000 from the Task Force. (The Task Force also organized get-out-the-vote telephone banks in New York, Washington, DC, Kentucky, and Connecticut.)

"We couldn't have done nearly as well as we did without the Task Force's help," said Braidy O'Neal, the Campaign Manager.

Kansans for Fairness also organized more than 130 Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Jewish, United Church of Christ and other denominations' clergy members from all over the state to sign on to a statement opposing the amendment. And on Sunday (March 3), an overflow crowd estimated (by the Kansas City Star) at 400 to 500 sang and prayed to express their opposition to the amendment at a church in Prairie Village.

The marriage amendment failed in the City of Lawrence (home of the University of Kansas) by a large margin, losing in 35 of the City's 49 precincts and tying in 3. The margin by which it carried in Shawnee County (where the state's capital, Topeka, is located) was smaller than statewide (Shawnee County/Topeka: 67% - 33%).

The results were not unexpected, given last year's results in other states and the fact that Kansas is one of the "reddest" states. In 2004, 13 states - including 11 on November 2 – approved anti-marriage constitutional amendments by margins ranging from 57% - 43% (in Oregon) to 86% - 14% (in Mississippi). Amendments in the two states that border Kansas – Missouri and Oklahoma – carried with more than 70% of the vote (in Oklahoma, the margin was 76% to 24%; in Missouri it was 71% to 29%).

With today's vote, Kansas becomes the 18th state to amend its constitution to preclude the recognition of same-sex marriage. Ten of the 18 amendments, including that of Kansas, seek to preclude the recognition of other forms of relationships, such as domestic partnerships and civil unions. Four states adopted amendments prior to 2004 - Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Nevada. It is possible that another 12 to 14 states will have similar measures on the ballot between now and 2008.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.