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The university town of Lawrence could become the first city in Kansas to legally recognize same-sex partnerships, the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper reported.
Lawrence city commissioner Mike Rundle, who is gay, asked the city--population 80,000 and home of the University of Kansas--to research an ordinance creating a city-run domestic partnership registry. He has asked his colleagues to consider the matter in January, the Kansas Equality Coalition reported.
Kansas voters nearly two years ago approved a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and the proposed registry would not in itself grant legal rights to gay or lesbian couples. But Rundle told the Journal-World that it would yield tangible benefits, such as providing documentation to local private employers who offer domestic-partner benefits. It also would change the definition of "family" in city codes to encompass domestic partners.
Moreover, supporters of a Lawrence registry hope it will be the first step in persuading the city of Lawrence and other local agencies to offer partner benefits to their workers. Several Midwestern cities, including St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., and Iowa City, Iowa, have adopted similar ordinances.
In 1995, Lawrence passed an ordinance making it illegal to deny housing or employment based on sexual orientation, the Journal-World reported. (The Advocate)