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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Letter to the editor: A stance seeking gay rights, equality

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  • To the editor:
    Thank you for taking a moment in this letter as I know your time is valuable.
    During the last 22 months while incarcerated in the Kansas Department of Corrections, I have had ample opportunity to research and study the Kansas Constitution and statutes, the U.S. Constitution and the Defense of Marriage Act as they relate to rights of LGBTQA residents in Kansas.
    Initially, my research started for the sole purpose of obtaining visitation with my legal husband after being denied by Norton Correctional Facility. The blatant discrimination that my husband and I experienced added strain to our already fragile relationship and unfortunately our relationship ended.
    In March, my husband and I were denied a divorce judgement by a Norton County District Court judge based on his interpretation of laws where Kansas does not recognize and/or acknowledge the marriage of same-sex couples, even though the 10th Circuit Appellate Court had previously ruled on a similar case in Wyoming, allowing for divorce of a lesbian couple married in Canada.
    Upon reading an article where Douglas County has granted divorces to same-sex couples, I now have a strong motivation to obtain equality for my LGBTQA brothers and sisters.
    The U.S. Constitution ensures the basic civil rights afforded to every man and woman are extended regardless of any characteristics which may demean a class of citizens. The ban imposed by the state opposes the U.S. Constitution as it does not rationally relate to any legitimate state purposes, nor has the state articulated and/or produced compelling state's interest that would justify the infringement of an individual's fundamental rights. The mere public intolerance, animosity and personal views of morality against same-sex unions do not justify the deprivation of physical liberties and fundamental rights.
    Kansas legislation cannot sincerely claim they are applying relevant criteria for our very existence and survival, based upon archaic, overboard assumptions and religious beliefs.
    The Kansas Constitution and state statutes citing recognized marriages shall be between a man and woman only encroaches on the U.S. Constitution, religious freedoms and fundamental rights and individual interests. The allowing of a man to be married to a woman but not another man is rationalized as a moral characteristic in the attitude of romantic paternalism. Morality arguments allow for policies to be adopted that could not otherwise be supported.
    Popular opinion and arguments for the denial of recognition/ban of intrasex marriages is deeply rooted in Judeo Christian traditions with vast interpretations of scripture, however Christ never mentions homosexuality and there is no justification in God's rationale in approved unions as necessary or a condition for a state's acceptance of same-sex marriage.
    Homosexual rights and equality reflect the right of conscience and the recognition of conscience is and of itself the very substance of religion. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides for the freedom of religion. Theology is the study of religious faith, theosophical practices and experiences wherein religion is defined as a cause, principle or belief held to with faith and ardor.
    Page 2 of 3 - The act of openly conceding one's homosexuality, love of males and male beauty is itself an act of faith; faith in the sturdiness and acceptance of one's own identity and the discovery, pride and sincerity of one's own heart.
    At the very heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and the mystery that is human life. A vast majority of people engaging in homosexuality regard those acts as an extension of their deepest emotional and sexual desires. Desires which they cannot believe they have chosen and which are everywhere wrong. The "strong public policy" banning recognition of intrasex marriages demean the GLBTQ community, assaulting and insulting one's identity, integrity, faith, pride, self-discovery and conscience, all of which are realities, the neglect of which result in the impoverishment of life wherein the belief of these matters cannot define attributes of personhood or individuality formed under compulsions of the state.
    The U.S. Constitution affords freedoms and protections to personal decisions, which are fundamental elements of liberty. Neither the Bill of Rights or the specific practices of state at the time of adoption of the 14th Amendment mark the scope and/or limits the sphere of liberty. When people are held in low self-esteem for widely irrelevant features, self-asserting compulsions, plans, aspirations, sense of what is sacred and without regard for acts they themselves have not done, their essential deserts for equality and worthiness of social care and attention on par with others is neglected and violated.
    The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution preserves and demands the right of equal treatment and recognition to any protected class of citizens. The GLBTQ community meet the requirements of a protected class under relevant standards and the state cannot deny the status without admitting protected classes classified as suspect or quasi-suspect do not, in fact, merit that status, or admitting that protected classes are deemed suspect or quasi-suspect at the whims of the courts and/or legislation.
    The Kansas ban against same-sex marriages wherein alleged moral, spiritual and physical inferiorities are produced, punishes and stigmatizes a classified group, implying that each sex is to have a specific role that should not be performed by a member of the opposite sex promoting stereotypical gender roles. Traditionally, females are destined solely for home and the rearing of family while males are engaged in the marketplace and world ideas, invoking a weak congruence between gender and the traits it represents, forcing individuals into stereotypical notions that bear no relevance to one's actual abilities, further imposing disabilities for the purpose of disadvantaging minorities.
    With the recent landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to repeal sections of DOMA on unconstitutionality along with other rulings, it has been made eminently clear legislatures do not have the power to prohibit certain marriages, only implement general laws.
    Page 3 of 3 - DOMA as written, specifically section 2, will not allow for a state's refusal to recognize a marriage that was legally valid at the time of celebration, according to the laws of the issuing state and the state of domicile, as it refutes the full faith and credit clause.
    Article IV, section 1, of the U.S. Constitution was designed to make several states an integral part of a single nation, constitutionally demanding each state must treat the properly authenticated judgments, records and contracts of another state as they would be treated in the state in which they are rendered. States such as Kansas are not permitted to ignore foreign judgments when they happen to disagree with the policies and stipulation. Merely because the policy and statutes of one state conflict with the policies and statutes of another does not establish the policies and statutes of the former would be obnoxious to the later's. Choice of law would require Kansas to look to other federal and state domestic relations laws to determine the validity of the marriage.
    Under current choice-of-law jurisprudence, my marriage, legally valid and celebrated in the state of Iowa, is legal and valid in Kansas. Where my husband and I were legal residents of Missouri whose state constitution and statutes neither voids nor prohibits only choosing not to recognize same-sex marriages, and we were married in Iowa, whose state constitution and statutes allow for and recognize same-sex marriages, my marriage is valid in Kansas, even though Kansas domestic relation laws make such marriages void.
    Kansas had no contact with my husband, myself or the marriage itself at the time of celebration, thus making Kansas domestic relation laws inapplicable in the determination of validity in my marriage.
    DOMA does not address choice-of-law issues, therefore this claim holds true, even when DOMA is the law of the land.
    It is my hope and prayer you and/or your organization will consider assisting me in my quest for change. Same-sex couples' right to marry and recognition of valid marriages is a basic civil right as marriage is an expression of emotional support, an exercise in religious traditions and intimate to the degree of being sacred. Marriage, be it between a man and woman or man and man or woman and woman, is not simply a private contract, but a social and public display of a private, emotional and prideful commitment.
    As such, it is the highest honor of personal integrity. Equality is a command Kansas must respect the benefit of and which every human deserves.
    Christopher Yates
    Inmate, Lansing Correctional Facility

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