1/27-1/31: Summary & Call to Action
Last Monday the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee heard testimonies for Senate Bill 302, legislation which proposed the banning and criminalization of surrogacy in Kansas. The committee room was packed with surrogates, doctors, lawyers and with parents who were holding their children- just recently born via surrogacy and pleaded with Sen Pilcher-Cook to ‘see the light’.
Proponents went first (the committee agenda had originally said that opponents would go first) and were allotted a full five minutes for their vitriolic anti-surrogacy propaganda. One of the proponents to a surrogacy ban in Kansas was Kathy Sloan – surprisingly, a board member for the National Organization for Women. Sloan has been a thorn in the side of many State NOW Chapters all across the country- usurping local State NOW Chapter efforts by misrepresenting herself and leaving her purpose for visiting a State ambiguous until she steps up to a podium and begins to unravel the hard work that State NOW Chapters are doing. Kathy Sloan did NOT speak for the Kansas National Organization for Women last week when she testified in favor of SB 302, nor was she speaking on National NOW policies.
A new NOW Resolution is being written (to be brought before NOW delegates in June at the National Conference) in support of surrogacy to once and for all put an end to Kathy Sloan’s interference with the good work that Kansas NOW and other State NOW Chapters are doing.
Despite the ruckus Kathy Sloan caused for Kansas NOW last week we came out on top- with many thanks to our Kansas NOW members who responded to our requests for testimonies and took the time to come up to Topeka and submitted testimony in opposition.
As The Washington Post reports, a stunning and creative quote came from Dr. David Grainger who is a specialist in reproductive medicine. He said, “This bill would have criminalized the most important surrogate pregnancy this world has ever seen. Mary had a verbal contract with Gabriel. She was carrying a pregnancy that was not her husband’s, and she gave that pregnancy back to God after he was born.”
Directly across the room from Dr. Grainger, Sen Pilcher-Cook could do little else but wryly smile as opponents to her proposed surrogacy ban were granted this brief but much needed comedic relief.
Not only is the surrogacy ban issue dead, but the issue of surrogacy in general seems to have a consensus amongst legislative watch dogs to be an issue that is unlikely to rear it’s head again any time soon.
Tuesday, the second hearing for SB 302 quickly adjourned after Committee Chair Sen Pilcher-Cook stated that after the previous day’s testimony she thought there was a fundamental issue with the legislation and she had no intention of working the bill. She told the committee that she introduced it to spur discussion, and thought that it certainly did that.
Of course, we will never know if she authored the bill with the sole intent of only creating a dialogue on surrogacy, but, we can say that it is highly unlikely that this bill would have died in the committee as it did had it not been for the wonderful people who submitted testimony with us.
While the ‘Religious Freedom with Respect to Marriage’ bill has had hearings this week with discussion of hypothetical allowances for discrimination to same sex couples based upon religious beliefs under the circumstance that same sex marriages are made legal in Kansas two bills (HCR 5026 & HB 2554) were introduced that, if passed, would make the Religious Freedom with Respect to Marriage bill something more than hypothetical. Currently, the RFRM bill is nothing more than what-ifs. If HB2554 were to pass we would see the following language changes to current, Kansas marriage law:
The marriage contract is to be considered in law as a
civil contract between two parties who are of opposite sex. All other
marriages are declared to be contrary to the public policy of this state and
All marriages contracted without this state, which would
be valid by the laws of the country in which the same were contracted, shall be valid in all courts and places in this state. It is the strong public policy of this state only to recognize as valid marriages from other states that are between a man and a woman.
HCR 5026 is for a ballot measure to repeal Article 16 of Section 15 of the Kansas Constitution to omit language almost identical to the first quoted text (above) from HB 2554.
CALL TO ACTION
#1 These efforts in the fight toward equality need your help. These precious pieces of legislation need you – yes, you!- to put on your smart, respectful, professional thinking hats. Then, to
kindly and thoughtfully send Representative Brunk an email with a request to please schedule hearings for HCR 5026 and HB 2554. He is the Chair of the House Federal & State Affairs Committee and will have the say as to whether or not these bills receive a hearing. It is of the utmost importance that requests for hearings on this legislation are all honey and no vinegar.
Although the passing of these bills is unlikely- we witnessed the power and effect that respectfully concerned citizens can have on legislation earlier this week. It is not without precedence that we put our best foot forward and do our part.
Please send your requests to Representative Brunk’s legislative email address:
#2 GRAB YOUR SHARPIES AND YOUR POSTER BOARD- IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN: This Saturday concerned Kansans are gathering outside of Lenexa Baptist Church to stand in opposition to Governor Brownback endorsing and working alongside an extremist group of religious fanatics who are trying to start a thing called a ‘Freedom Tour’ to enforce moral conscience on our culture. Enough said. We will see you there!
#3 Last, but not least please mark your calendars and join us in the Capitol rotunda on February 17th to listen to those who have been hurt by KanCare, to those who are affected by the lack of Medicaid expansion and health care policy updates from our legislators. Bring your notebook- take notes, ask questions!