A proposed constitutional amendment declaring that Kansas recognizes marriage as only between one man and one woman failed Tuesday to win enough House support to submit it to voters.
The vote was 79-45 — five favorable votes fewer than the two-thirds majority needed to approve a proposed change in the Kansas Constitution. The Senate adopted the proposal Saturday on a 27-13 vote.
The proposal would have also denied legal benefits associated with marriage to other domestic arrangements, such as civil unions.
“I would say it’s dead,” Republican House Speaker Doug Mays said following the vote.
In March, the House adopted a different version of the amendment on an 88-36 vote, but several members switched their votes Tuesday.
Kansas already has a statute declaring the state’s policy of recognizing marriage only as the union of one man and one woman.
Some legislators believe the statute makes the amendment unnecessary, but others say putting the policy into the Kansas Constitution would keep it from being revised by a court or future Legislature.
Proponents also said the state should continue to elevate traditional marriages above other relationships, arguing that traditional marriages form the strongest families and the foundation of American society.
“We either care about marriage or we don’t,” said Rep. Dan Williams, a Republican who presented the proposed amendment to the House. “It’s that simple.”
Opponents contend it would invite a court challenge and would enshrine discrimination in the Kansas Constitution.
“I’ve come to conclusion that what we’re doing something that’s not very nice,” said Rep. Rick Rehorn, a Democrat. “I’m asking this body to be kind today and stop this amendment, so we can begin to heal the wounds we’ve created.”
Ten House members who had voted for the slightly different version of the amendment in March voted against the latest version Tuesday, while one made the opposite switch and voted with the majority Tuesday.
House leaders had expected the vote to be close and had postponed it one day so that two supporters who were out of state Monday could return for the vote.