Elections

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to speak at Wichita rally to oppose same-sex marriage

Gov. Sam Brownback will speak at a rally in Wichita on Saturday that will highlight opposition to same-sex marriage.

The rally, which will be held in the parking lot of the Summit Church, is part of a whistle-stop tour for the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian organization based in Washington that lobbies against same-sex marriage and abortion.

The theme of the event is “Standing for the American Family and Traditional Marriage.”

The event comes on the heels of a Johnson County judge’s order to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses earlier this month. The Kansas Supreme Court stayed the order – after one lesbian couple got married – but a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU could result in same-sex marriage becoming legal across the state.

Brownback has said that he will fight to uphold the state’s ban, which voters made part of the state constitution in 2005.

Democrat Paul Davis, who opposed the ban in 2005 as a member of the Legislature, has said that the courts will resolve the issue.

Terry Fox, the evangelical pastor whose church is hosting the event, said that Davis was also invited to attend the event Saturday.

“I’m never afraid of the truth,” said Fox, explaining that he would like to hear from both candidates on social issues.

Chris Pumpelly, spokesman for the Davis’ campaign, questioned the sincerity of the invitation.

“I was told that a staff member of Summit Church called a Democratic field office in Wichita – not the Davis campaign – 20 minutes before blasting information about their event supporting Gov. Brownback,” Pumpelly said.

“Paul will not be attending,” he said.

The rally is not an official Brownback campaign event. The Brownback campaign said the governor was scheduled to speak, but did not provide specifics about his remarks.

The event will highlight several social issues.

“As the election approaches, we want to encourage values voters to get out and make their voices heard,” said an e-mail from the anti-abortion group Kansans For Life promoting the rally.

Fox said there was frustration in the evangelical community with both parties for not putting more focus on same-sex marriage and other social issues in the campaign. He added that he has been pushing other pastors to organize their congregations to support Brownback in the tight race for governor based on his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Fox said allowing same-sex couples to marry breaks 4,000 years of Judeo-Christian tradition and redefines marriage.

“What is the definition now? Where is this going to stop? How can we stop polygamy?” Fox said.

“I think what conservatives realize and resent is the overreach of the judicial system,” he said. “Where does it stop when you don’t allow states to produce law individually?”

The Family Research Council is classified as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that has won legal victories against the Ku Klux Klan and other extremist groups.

Representatives from the council were not immediately available for comment on the classification. A statement on the organization’s website called the designation an “attempt to discredit FRC’s work and cut us out of public policy debates and media coverage over homosexuality and same-sex ‘marriage’” and accused the Law Center of defamation by “lumping us together with neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.”

Tom Witt, the executive director of the LGBT rights group Equality Kansas, criticized the governor for his involvement in the rally.

“The governor’s just part of that small, little group – increasingly small – that object to the idea that a gay or lesbian couple might one day find happiness,” Witt said. “It’s pretty sad really that they’re going to have this rally behind a used car lot. I think that says something about their message for the people of Kansas.”

The Summit Church is behind CarMax on East Kellogg.

Fox said that people are welcome to attend the event in the church’s parking lot no matter where they stand on the issue. The rally starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.

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