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Both sides
predict lawsuits over Kansas's gay marriage ban

Both sides
predict lawsuits over Kansas's gay marriage ban

Gavel_dual

Kansans voted overwhelmingly in favor of amending their state constitution to ban not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions, but supporters and opponents of the measure are predicting lengthy court battles as a result. The ban reaffirms the state's long-standing policy of recognizing only marriages between one man and one woman. It also declares that only such unions are entitled to the "rights and incidents" of marriage, prohibiting the state from authorizing civil unions for gay couples. With final, unofficial results from 104 of the state's 105 counties on Tuesday, 414,235, or 70%, voted yes, and 178,167, or 29% voted no. Critics argue that the amendment could have unexpected consequences, such as potentially preventing companies from offering health benefits to employees' partners--gay or straight. Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, predicted the amendment will spawn lawsuits in Kansas courts as gays, lesbians, and unmarried heterosexuals encounter problems. "Does this impact living wills?" he asked. "Powers of attorney? Custody agreements? The enforcement of custody agreements?" The Reverend Terry Fox, senior pastor of Wichita's Immanuel Baptist Church and a leader of the effort to pass the amendment, also predicted a legal attack by opponents. He was confident the amendment would withstand scrutiny. "We always felt like if Kansans were given an opportunity to vote, they would vote strongly to protect marriage and defend marriage in the way it has traditionally been defined," Fox said. Voters in 13 states, including Missouri and Oklahoma, approved constitutional bans on gay marriage last year, joining four others. Similar proposals will be on the ballot next year in Alabama, South Dakota, and Tennessee. Meanwhile in Connecticut, lawmakers said Tuesday they believe they have enough votes to pass a bill that would make the state the first to recognize civil unions between same-sex couples without intervention from the courts. Some Kansas voters, like 24-year-old Eric Hetzel, saw the amendment as a way to protect the traditional definition of marriage, enshrined in Kansas law since 1867, from legal challenges. "I am a Christian," Hetzel said. "I believe in the Bible and what it says that marriage is between a man and a woman." But Byron Defreese, a 65-year-old retiree, called the amendment "total foolishness." "I don't know how this is going to defend my marriage of 43 years," he said. "I think it's a diversion from the real issues." (AP)

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