By John Hanna, Associated Press Writer
TOPEKA, Kan. – Voters in Kansas overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment April 5 banning same-sex couples from marrying or entering into civil unions.
Republican state Attorney General Phill Kline had said the amendment was “an unfortunate, necessary reaction to activist courts.”
Among the opponents was Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who said she supported the existing state law and viewed it as sufficient.
Kansas has become the 18th state to discriminate against gay families in its constitution. Alabama, South Dakota and Tennessee plan elections next year on constitutional bans, and proposals are pending in 13 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
With 97 percent of the vote reported, 395,468, or 71 percent, voted “yes,” and 163,766, or 29 percent, voted “no.”
Gay marriage is already banned under Kansas law, and the law is not being challenged. But supporters of the ballot measure said the ban must be in the Kansas Constitution to insulate it from legal challenge.
Most voters appeared to brush aside critics’ arguments that the amendment could have unexpected consequences, such as preventing companies from offering health benefits to employees’ partners, gay or heterosexual.
“The way marriage is in the Bible, God says it’s between man and woman,” said Sharon Kent, 58, of the Kansas City suburb of Mission. “I don’t have a problem with gays being together, living together, but I have a problem with them getting married.”
Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said the vote was not surprising, given results in other states.