Supporters and opponents of amending the Kansas constitution to ban same-sex marriage expect hundreds of people to converge on the statehouse for rival rallies Monday, as legislators open their annual session. Some clergy, disappointed by the legislature's refusal last year to adopt a proposed amendment, want lawmakers to move quickly enough this year to put a proposal on the April ballot for municipal and school board elections. Pastors supporting the effort are planning a rally for 1:30 p.m. in the second-floor rotunda. About 250 ministers already have committed, the Reverend Terry Fox, senior pastor of Wichita's Immanuel Baptist Church, said Thursday.
Also set for 1:30 p.m. is a rally outside on the statehouse's south side, organized by opponents of the proposed ban. Some also support abortion rights or are concerned about preserving the separation of church and state, said Tiffany Muller, a Topeka city council member involved in the event. Muller said she expects about 400 people to participate. Each camp took the other's planned event in stride. "It'll just bring more visibility to the marriage amendment," Fox said. "We're glad they're coming." Muller said: "For the most part, people maintain their civility."
Kansas already has a law against same-sex marriage, but advocates see an amendment as a way to ward off a court challenge. Both legislative chambers must adopt a proposed amendment by two-thirds
majorities to place it on the ballot, with approval by a simple majority of voters needed to add it to the constitution. Fox and other clergy support a proposal to not only ban same-sex marriage but also prevent civil unions or other forms of legal recognition for gay relationships.
Last year the senate approved such a proposal. While a majority of house members supported the measure, it fell short of the two-thirds margin. Also last year, voters in 13 states approved constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, including Missouri. "We win hands down when you take it to the public," Fox said. Muller said she and other opponents believe they have a good chance of preventing legislative adoption of an amendment. As for her side's rally, she said, "The timing of it is designed to show there is broad support for not putting one religious view over another and not using religious views to hurt one group of people."