Just as Kansas’ reputation for intolerance and foolishness was starting to fade, several lawmakers have stepped forward to stake a new claim to those titles.
State Rep. Randy Garber of Sabetha and a handful of colleagues have introduced two measures involving marriage. The bills are so offensive and wrongheaded that to acknowledge as much is simply stating the obvious.
Indeed, the bills are so ridiculous that there is a danger in giving them any publicity. We’re confident Kansas lawmakers will roundly reject both measures, which are almost certainly unconstitutional.
But completely ignoring the bills would be a mistake. They’re an important reminder that misguided prejudice still lurks in the corners of the state, no matter what the courts — and voters — may believe.
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The first bill is a nine-page mishmash of errant theology, bad logic and name-calling. It establishes something called “parody marriage,” which is defined as “any form of alleged marriage that does not involve a man and a woman.”
The proposal trots out an old, discredited “secular humanism” trope. It calls sexual orientation “mythology.” It rejects comparisons between marriage equality and racial quality: “There are no ex-blacks but there are thousands of ex-gays,” the measure says.
It prohibits Kansas from enforcing policies involving same-sex marriage, or “policies that respect, condone, ratify or affirm homosexual, transgender, zoophilia, objectophilia, polygamy, orthodoxy and sexual orientation as if the doctrines were plausible, moral or decent and not a political ploy.”
Yes. It’s just that bad.
The second bill creates something called the “optional elevated marriage act.” It would allow heterosexual couples to undergo counseling, then sign a pledge promising a “higher standard of commitment” when obtaining a Kansas marriage license.
That higher standard has limits, though. The bill also outlines the ways highly committed couples can still get divorced. Marriage is sacred, it seems, until it isn’t.
Garber and his like-minded colleagues are entitled to introduce any legislation they want, of course. The rest of us are just as entitled to denounce the proposals as retrogressive and unsuitable for a state that professes support for tolerance, human equality and freedom of thought.
Same-sex marriage is a constitutional right in all 50 states. Since the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that right, thousands of committed same-sex couples have been married across the country without damage to the public welfare. In fact, the opposite is the case: Marriage equality has enriched the nation.
Some Kansas lawmakers want to create parody marriages. Instead, Kansans should reject parody legislation like this, which addresses a non-problem with bigotry and hate.