This fall, Kansas has sent its first openly lesbian member of Congress to Washington, DC., new governor Laura Kelly is hard at work undoing some of the state-level laws harming queer Kansans working for the state, and the state legislature has its first openly gay members, Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodard, in office.
I guess all of this made the Republican state legislators nervous, so they’ve come up with what I think might be the most anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation possible.
A bronze statue of a Kansa warrior sits atop the Kansas Statehouse. A steaming pile of garbage sits on the desks of Representatives Garber, Donohoe, French, Helmer, Highland, Huebert and Rhiley
The Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act is repulsive for what it aims to do to same-sex couples, but it’s also an assault on the authority of the Supreme Court. It’s an effort at resisting what is a clear mandate from SCOTUS to recognize the marriages of same-sex partners. I don’t make sexuality-race comparisons lightly, but this behavior is particularly repugnant coming from the state that gave the US Brown v. Board. And, unlike Brown, at the time that SCOTUS gave us Obergefull, popular opinion was already in favor of the legal recognition of marriages between same-sex couples, so this attack is also an attack on the desire of the majority of Americans.
This bonkers piece of legislation seeks to define LGBTQ+ people as a community that comprises a”denominational sect that is inseparably part of the religion of secular humanism.” This leap has two parts–that “secular humanism” is a “religion” (a common refrain in Christian nationalist circles) and that LGBTQ+ people are a monolithic group that solidly adopts this “faith.” This, of course, denies the diversity of belief/unbelief/nonbelief among LGBTQ+ people, none of which is the state’s business anyway, and pretends that queer people can’t be people of faith.
It then tries to invoke the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which says that the state can’t use tax funds to promote religion, to argue that the legal recognition of same-sex marriages is actually a religious act. Here is the text of the bill:
“The state … shall disentangle itself from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) secular humanist church pursuant to this section and the establishment clause of the 1st amendment of the constitution of the United States.”
Now, Kansas has some Establishment Clause problems, but this ain’t one of them.
It somehow actually gets worse. It defines same-sex marriages as “parody marriages,” as if what married queer people are doing in Kansas is poking fun of opposite-sex couples; calls queer sexuality “mythology”; and civil protections for queer people a “sham.”
A second piece of legislation, the Optional Elevated Marriage bill, is basically a covenant marriage law that would make it harder for opposite-sex couples to divorce. Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana already have these bills in place already, but few people opt into marriages that are harder to dissolve than standard marriages. They have not been proven to be effective at reducing the divorce rate. Indeed, Arkansas continues to have the highest divorce rate in the nation. Fine, whatever, if people want to limit their ability to divorce, I don’t care much. What I find detestable is the jab at queer people (who, I guess, the bill’s author would like to see divorced faster than not, as they aren’t covered in this illogical bill). The bill describes marriages between same-sex couples as
“erod[ing] community standards of decency, unlike secular marriage between a man and a woman”
The only people eroding community standards are the Kansas politicians who put their name on this piece of trash.
Though seven members of the state GOP have signed on to these garbage bills, they will be unlikely to pass, just as similar measures have failed in other states.
That’s all the more reason why it’s disgusting that state Republicans–you know, the party that opposes government waste (like wasting time and money running bills that are clearly unconstitutional)–has forwarded them. Why do this except to remind queer Kansans that Republicans consider them less-than?
Yeah, that’s the point–just to hurt people.