TOPEKA, Kan. (BP)–One day after seeing a state constitutional marriage amendment suffer a surprising loss, pro-family supporters in Kansas said May 5 they would work to defeat the legislators who voted against it.
“This is not a sprint race for us. This is a marathon,” Terry Fox, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita, Kan., told Baptist Press.
Needing 84 votes in the Kansas House to reach the required two-thirds majority, the amendment received only 79. Forty-five representatives voted against it. If it had passed the House, Kansas citizens would have voted on the amendment this fall. It had already passed the state Senate, 27-13.
The defeat was surprising because two months earlier the House had passed a similar version, 88-36. But it failed in the Senate, leading pro-family groups to get involved and pressure their legislators for a re-vote.
Fox said he is unsure why so many members of the House changed their minds. According to a tally by the Associated Press, 19 Republicans joined 26 Democrats in voting against the amendment. Voting for it were 60 Republicans and 19 Democrats.
“The greatest offense of all is that they have basically said to Kansas voters, ‘You don’t have a right to vote on this,’” Fox said. “… People are angry — Christians and non-Christians.”
Five state legislatures already have sent marriage amendments to voters: Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah.
“We’re pleased that now the representatives and the senators are on record about how they feel about gay ‘marriage,’” Fox said.
Fox’s church hosted a news conference of pro-family leaders in the days leading up to the second vote. He said he and other pro-family representatives will be meeting across the state in the coming weeks to plan their strategy for the fall election. One of the priorities, he said, will be to make sure that targeted districts have good pro-family candidates.
Fox hopes to have large pro-family rallies throughout the state as the election nears and also hopes to see 100,000 new voters registered. In addition, he said he is going to encourage churches to set up a “Christian life committee” in their respective congregations to monitor pro-family legislation and to track how their legislators are voting. He estimates that it could take three election cycles to change the makeup of the legislature.
Rep. William Mason, a Republican, said on the floor May 4 he had never seen citizens “energized” like they were on the issue of same-sex “marriage.”
“This is about the people having a vote on the most fundamental institution of all — marriage between one man and one woman,” Mason said. “The family is the foundational unit of human society. It’s about God’s good gift of marriage, which God defines as the union of one man and one woman.”
Rep. Dan Williams, a Republican, put it more bluntly.
“We either care about marriage or we don’t,” he said. “It’s that simple. If you believe in marriage as it has been defined for thousands and thousands of years, you will vote for this amendment. If you’d like to redefine the basic foundation of our society and almost every other society on earth, you’ll probably vote against this.”
The amendment would have banned both same-sex “marriage” and apparently Vermont-type civil unions. One sentence in the amendment stated: “No relationship other than a marriage shall be recognized by the state as entitling the parties to the rights or incidents of marriage.”
Rep. Rick Rehorn, a Democrat, argued that the amendment was politically motivated.
“We have a law on the books already — a law that was recently upheld by our courts, a law that is currently unchallenged,” he said.
But Williams countered by saying that laws and statues can be struck down by state judges, while amendments cannot.
“If we think that courts are OK to throw out alcohol and education statutes, why would we not be concerned they would throw out a marriage statute?” he asked. “… Courts may very well throw out any statute, and that is why we need to take a further step to protect marriage in the state of Kansas.”
Nationally, pro-family groups are pushing for a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While a state marriage amendment would be safe from state courts, it nevertheless could be struck down in federal court. Nebraska’s marriage amendment is being challenge in federal court.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit