Chuck0's diary: The Neanderthals who run Kansas
Back when I used to live in the Washington, DC area, I used to do things to promote Kansas as an expatriate Kansan. I'd tell people about how interesting Kansas was, that it isn't merely a boring "fly over" state. I'd tell them about the tradition of political populism in Kansas. I would explain that the state voted Republican, but that its residents held liberal and populist ideas. I'd point out the history of Kansas as a Free State before the American Cvil War and I'd point out that Ross Perot won several counties during the 1992 presidential election.
The Kansans proved to everybody that the state really was populated and controlled by right-wing reactionaries. they went and outlawed the teaching of evolution in schools. Kansas became an international joke for its rejection of science and common sense. I'm sure that I wasn't the only expatriate Kansan out there who suddenly had to go into the closet about where I was from. Fortunately, smarter people in Kansas got organized and got rid of the creationist nonsense.
Today there is news coming out of Topeka that the Kansas Neanderthals might be successful in enshrining anti-gay bigotry in the state constitution. The Kansas House "voted 88-36 for a proposed amendment to ban gay marriages and the granting of benefits associated with marriage to other relationships." So not only are these Neanderthals afraid of gay marriage for irrational reasons, but they seek to screw over gay and queer people by making sure that they can't get benefits through alternative methods or institutions. It wouldn't surprise me if the politicians pushing this idea secretly wished they could pass a similar amendment outlawing giving benefits to people of color. I've been around enough social events in Leawood to have hear racist comments about how my African-American neighbors coulnd't govern Washington, DC. ("You know, THOSE people just can't govern themselves').
In the 1990s, Kansas made a name for itself as the "Ignorance State." Are people now going to sit on their hands as Kansas makes a bid to become the "Bigot State." I know there is tough competition these days for that title, but I'd hate to see the people of Kansas passively put up with this backward nonsense.
As an anarchist, I am against the institution of marriage, as I have been for many years. I reject the idea that the state or the church should have any control over my relationships or love life. Emma Goldman made some good arguments about marriage a century ago, which still are relevant today. At the same time, I have to admit that the pictures of all the same-sex couples getting married in San Francisco, Oregon, New Mexico, and New York brought a smile to my face and some warmth to my heart. I'm willing to support my gay/queer friends and neighbors if they want to fight for their equal access to this institution which does provide some important benefits and rights in our society. I'd like to think that gay/queer/transgender people can somebody have the same choices I have as a white male heterosexual. They can get married if they want to, or they can choose to reject marriage.
My feeling is that the forces of reaction, both in Kansas and elsewhere, will eventually lose and gay marriage will become commonplace. Things have changed much in the past 20 years, since I got involved in student activism at the University of Kansas in 1984-85. The anti-apartheid divestment movement was the focus of my activism, but I also became an activist to join with other students who were fighting efforts by College Republicans to defund the gay student group on Kansas. We won that battle. It certainly seems like we've come a long way now that the fight is over gay marriage.
Kansans need to speak up and reject efforts to enshrine bigotry in the state consitution. We are better than that.