Kansas News

Same-Sex marriage in Kansas

kansas-flag-rainbowBy Thomas Witt, Executive Director
Equality Kansas

As of press time, the marriage issue in Kansas remains unsettled.

    Here’s what’s happened so far: On Monday, Oct. 6, U.S. Supreme Court issued an order allowing to stand, without comment, the appeals coming from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Kansas, Utah, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

    At the same time, they also let stand appeals from the 4th and 7th Circuits, which involved unconstitutional bans in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

    The stays written into the 10th Circuit appellate rulings were automatically lifted, and states involved in the Oct. 6 Supreme Court orders began issuing marriage licenses.

    Even though Kansas did not have a case before a federal court at the time of the 10th Circuit ruling and the subsequent Supreme Court action, the fact that Kansas is part of the 10th Circuit means their rulings on similar cases in other states apply. The Utah ban, in fact, is very similar to the Kansas ban. The 10th Circuit was clear: “similar statutory enactments do not withstand constitutional scrutiny.”  

    That Monday, Equality Kansas members began going to local county courthouses across the state, applying for marriage licenses.

    The results were mixed. Confusion reigned. Court clerks and county judges were unsure of what to do. Some allowed couples to complete their marriage license applications, pending the three-day waiting period. Others were quickly turned away without being allowed to complete an application. In many cases, applications were accepted, but then denied within hours.

    In an attempt to get some control over the situation, on Tuesday, Oct. 7, the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration issued a guidance letter to the county courts around the state: Accept marriage license applications, but don’t issue the actual marriage license at the end of the three-day waiting period. Some counties followed that guidance, some didn’t.


Organist Cameron Carpenter brings distinctive, exhilarating sound to Salina

By Ciara Reid, staff reporter


SALINA - Every once in a while a musician will come along and completely flip the script in terms of how they use their respective instrument – Cameron Carpenter is one of those artists. Born in northwestern Pennsylvania in 1981, Carpenter began playing the organ at age four, and culminated his studies at the Julliard School in New York City.

    In 2008, he became the first organist ever nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for a solo album. Described as a “modern day throwback to the flamboyant virtuosos of the 19th century” by NPR, Carpenter will play in Salina on Nov. 8. Liberty Press was able to catch Carpenter while on tour to answer a few questions.

Liberty Press: What other artists and music inspires you?

      Cameron Carpenter: As in any repertoire choice I make, the essence is in the work, not in a consideration of the composer as an idea. For example, my latest album If You Could Read My Mind includes my own arrangement of the titular song by Gordon Lightfoot. Something about that song grabbed me, exactly as when whole swathes of Mozart or Medtner can go by without my really noticing, then one particular work will be magic.


WSU LGBT student group changes name, focus

SpectrumBy Elle Boatman

WICHITA - Wichita State University’s That Gay Group! (TGG) is a thing of the past. But it hasn’t gone away - just changed its name. Beginning this semester, WSU’s LGBT student group has adopted the new moniker, Spectrum: LGBTQ and Allies.

    There wasn’t an active LGBT student group on-campus in 2000 when a student approached Mike Madecky, who was then the Rhatigan Student Center (RSC) Activities Director, asking where to go to meet people. He responded, in part, by inviting people to a meeting.

  wsu-TDOR  In discussing a name for the newly forming group, the founders - Mike Madecky, Patrick Hutchison, and Christopher Kelley - figured they’d be referred to as “that gay group” no matter what the actual name was so they decided to own it by actually naming it That Gay Group!

So why the name change?

    “People didn’t love the name. They didn’t identify with the name. [They] didn’t feel like it represented their identities,” said Dr. Jennifer Pearson, the group’s faculty advisor since 2009.

    The group’s officers and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion received feedback that echoed this sentiment. Some students felt unwelcome, stating the old name felt exclusive of their identities while others raised concerns about getting involved because they didn’t want to list That Gay Group! on resumes. Ally presence also was lacking with allies coming to the meetings only in direct support of an LGBT friend.


Voter's Guide

Voter's Guide provided by Equality Kansas

votebuttonEquality Kansas, when making endorsements, considers a number of factors. In order of importance:
1. Voting record as a public official
2. Membership in Equality Kansas, or a
    member of the LGBT population
3. Responses to policy questionnaires sent
    to all candidates
4. Public statements regarding LGBT
    equality issues
    For this election cycle, the test for incumbents was their position on HB2453, the 2014 “denial-of-service” bill. Incumbents who voted in favor of HB2453, regardless of previous voting records, were not considered eligible for endorsement.   

    For newcomers, the questionnaire responses are key, also voting records in prior offices held.

    While public statements made by candidates are considered, private assurances of support are not.

    Please note that endorsements aren't made in uncontested races, or in races where there is a lack of information on candidates or where no candidate will represent LGBT interests.  

KS Governor/Lieutenant Governor:
Paul Davis/Jill Docking (D, Lawrence/Wichita)

U.S. Senate: Greg Orman (I, Olathe)

U.S. Congress 1st Dist.: James E. Sherow  (D, Manhattan)

U.S. Congress 3rd Dist.: Kelly Kultala (D, Kansas City)

KS Secretary of State: Jean Kurtis Schodorf (D, Wichita)

Insurance Commissioner: Dennis Anderson (D, Overland Park)

Kansas House District:
3: Julie Menghini (D, Pittsburg)
10: John Wilson (D, Lawrence)
16: Don McGuire (D, Overland Park)
17: Larry Meeker (D, Lake Quivira)
18: Cindy Neighbor (D, Shawnee)
19: Stephanie Clayton (R, Overland Park)
20: Elizabeth Arnold (D, Leawood)
21: Barbara Bollier (R, Mission Hills)
22: Nancy Lusk (D, Overland Park)
23: Amber Versola (D, Lenexa)
25: Melissa Rooker (R, Fairway)
26: Cheron Tiffany (D, Olathe)
29: James Eric Todd (R, Overland Park)
30: Liz Dickinson (D, Lenexa)
33: Tom Burroughs (D, Kansas City)
36: Kathy Wolfe Moore (D, Kansas City)
38: Jan Pringle (D, Gardner)
39: Vicki Hiatt (D, Shawnee)
43: Caitlin Trujillo (D, Gardner)
46: Dennis “Boog” Highberger (D, Lawrence)
52: Ty Dragoo (D, Topeka)
53: Annie Tietze (D, Topeka)
54: Ann E. Mah (D, Topeka)
55: Annie Kuether (D, Topeka)
56: Virgil Weigel (D, Topeka)
58: Harold Lane (D, Topeka)
59: Blaine Finch (R, Ottawa)
69: Gary Swartzendruber* (D, Salina)
73: Von Peterson (D, Canton)
76: Teresa Briggs (D, Reading)
78: Jim Poe (D, Olathe)
79: Ed Trimmer (D, Winfield)
81: Lynn Wells (D, Derby)
82: Danette Harris (D, Mulvane)
83: Carolyn Bridges (D, Wichita)
84: Gail Finney (D, Wichita)
85: Patrick Thorpe (D, Wichita)
86: Jim Ward (D, Wichita)
87: Charles Jenney (D, Wichita)
88: Patricia M. Sloop (D, Wichita)
89: Roderick A. Houston (D, Wichita)
92: John Carmichael (D, Wichita)
93: Sammy K. Flaharty (D, Garden Plain)
95: Tom Sawyer (D, Wichita)
96: Brandon Whipple (D, Wichita)
100: John Wallace Willoughby (D, Wichita)
102: Brian E. Davis (D, Hutchinson)
105: Sherry Livingston (D, Wichita)
112: Steve Muehleisen (D, Great Bend)
119: John E. Thomas (D, Dodge City)

* This is a qualified endorsement. Swartzendruber signed the 2012 petition calling for the repeal of the Salina human rights ordinance inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. He has since publicly apologized for that signature, and scored 100% on the 2014 policy questionnaire. His opponent voted in favor of HB2453.   
Also available at: www.kansasequalitycoalition.org.

    Remember, voters are allowed to take guides such as this into the voting booth.


Points of Interest

Wichita’s Alternative Gift Market offers a different shopping experience

By Jeanne de Grasse

AlternativeGiftsWICHITA - Wichita Alternative Gift Market (WAGM) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with a special opening ceremony. WAGM showcases charities and projects that lets shoppers “do good” and feel good with their holiday gift-giving.

    “Act Locally, Impact Globally” is the theme for the hundreds of such market events held all around the country in affiliation with Alternative Gifts International (AGI) in support of its annual catalogue of 30 national and international charitable projects and programs. As well as impacting globally, shoppers at WAGM also have the opportunity to impact locally by supporting four local organizations: Head to Toe Hygiene Pantry, Fairmount GoZones!, Urban Younglife, and Dear Neighbor Ministries.

    The market is Saturday, Nov. 8 from 10am-4pm at Grace Presbyterian, 5002 E. Douglas, with the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Native American blessing by Elder Mark Brown happening at 10:30am.

    When asked why people choose alternative gifts, Julie Anne Baker Brin, who has been involved with WAGM for over five years, said that “shoppers feel that this is a truer expression of the holiday spirit for them; that it’s so uplifting to be able to give a gift that makes a real difference in someone’s life.”


Deli Day: a taste of New York without the airfare



WICHITA - Congregation Emanu-El’s annual celebration of Jewish cuisine is back! The fundraiser offers delicious Jewish deli-style meals and plenty of take-out choices. Meal choices are a brisket dinner or corned beef sandwich meal with latkes, strudel, a drink and more for just $15.

Or visit the Jewish bakery for all sorts of take-home treats - challah, blintzes, hamantashen, macaroons - that you can’t find anywhere else.

The event is open between 11am-6pm, Nov. 9,
at Congregation Emanu-El, 7011 E. Central.





Trust Women brings comedienne and writer Lizz Winstead to Wichita

LizzWinsteadWICHITA - Trust Women’s 3rd Annual Gala featuring a performance by political satirist Lizz Winstead will be held Thursday, Nov. 13 from 6-9pm at the Crown Uptown, 3207 E. Douglas.

    As co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show and Air America Radio co-founder, Winstead has helped changed the very landscape of how people get their news.

    But she wasn’t just behind the scenes. As a performer, Winstead brought her political wit to The Daily Show as a correspondent and later to the radio waves co-hosting Unfiltered, Air America Radio’s mid-morning show, where she brought on board hip-hop legend, Chuck D and politico Rachel Maddow.

    Tickets for the Gala including cocktails, dinner and the comedy show are $75. Show only tickets are available for $40. For more information, call 316.425.3215 or visit www.itrustwomen.org



New York City… For Immediate release…   Cher is on the mend from her recent illness but her doctors have advised  that her recovery will take longer than previously expected.. As a result, the hugely successful D2K  Tour which has already completed 49 remarkable shows  will start back up in Lubbock Texas on November 9th.   A new schedule of all upcoming D2K tour dates will be officially announced on CHER.COM next week which will include newly rescheduled dates for the postponed shows.

“The initial viral infection affected her kidneys, which has delayed Cher’s recovery time.  Cher’s doctors have advised her to extend her rest period and expect her to make a full recovery” commented her spokesperson.


Reviews & More

Lawrence band Vigil and Thieves rocks and rolls with debut album, fall tour

VigilandThievesBy Ciara Reid, staff reporter

LAWRENCE - Lawrence-based band Vigil and Thieves may have just released their debut album, defective [book one] in early September, but they give off a vibe of seasoned musicians ready to flex their road muscles on an extensive national tour. Self-described as “a group of vagabonds who ignore the rules of real life and instead create sounds and poetry that will make you want to dance,” Vigil and Thieves is Sarah Storm (vocals, guitar, and keys), Steph Castor (guitar) – formerly of the band Grenadina, and Andrew Flaherty (drums).

    While in Illinois for a show, Sarah Storm took some time to chat with Liberty Press about all things Vigil and Thieves:

Liberty Press: Tell readers a little bit about your new band, Vigil and Thieves.
Sarah Storm: Our band, Vigil and Thieves was originally Andrew Flaherty and I. The two of us have been playing music together for four years starting in Lawrence and roaming around Phoenix and the San Diego area for a while as a duo. We came back to Lawrence where Steph Castor joined us on lead guitar. Which was really the missing link and turned our sound into a much fuller, more melodic kind of rock and roll that we had been always kinda wanting. We are all about telling stories through lyrical poetry in the hopes that others could relate to our songs and gain something positive through listening, singing along, or maybe even dancing a little bit.

LP: Your debut album was just released. What was the writing/recording process like?
SS: I write all the lyrics and my guitar parts usually with a melody thought out. Andrew and Steph must have a gift for reading minds because as soon as we start putting drums and second guitars together as a group it usually comes together flawlessly. We are super lucky to have such great chemistry and be so like-minded because when we all come together working on a song we capture the mood and the emotions in the lyrics with matching tones and melodies.

    [defective] book one is the first half of a full-length album that we wrote as the result of feeling kinda displaced. I was kicked out of my parents’ home during my senior year of high school, which made me feel like there was something wrong with me. A lot of the songs are a little bit tragic but they aren’t supposed to be sad songs. I am an optimist and we all wanted to keep the message of our music hopeful. I may write about feeling homeless or maybe even a little bit crazy, but as cliché as it may sound I think everything happens for a reason and we are all in control of what we do with our experiences and looking forward is always better than looking back.

LP: Speaking of the recording process, you produced the record. What was that process like?
SS: The recording process was extremely stressful. I went to school for recording and interned at an amazing studio in Phoenix called Tallcat. We managed to gather a bunch of recording equipment when Andrew came into some cash from the World Series of Poker Main Event. We had tried recoding elsewhere beforehand, but nothing ever sounded exactly how we imagined.

    We, by luck, acquired half an office building in Ottawa, KS, which we decided to call Vigilante Studio. We spent nearly the entire four months from May to August trying to record all 11 tracks. Which, in early July, we decided was too ambitious, so we split it up. There was definitely a lot of blood, sweat and tears but we got it done. We financed the record, the master, the artwork - by our friend Kassidee Quaranta - and printing ourselves with a little help from the Flaherty’s. As overwhelming as it all was it’s a good feeling to hold the final product in our hands and say that we created something out of nothing.


New age circus act awes Orpheum audience

By Brian Hansen

WICHITA - Combining traditional European-style circus with the new-age sound of electronic dance music (EDM), Circus Electronica: Singularity blazed the Orpheum Theatre’s stage on Oct. 11.

    Circus Electronica: Singularity, considered the only show of its kind, takes the audience on a journey exploring the relationship between computer-dependent humans and the machines on which they rely.

    “The focus is on Oni, a girl who wakes to consciousness and realizes she has been transported to a world inside the Machine,” says a press release from MuseBoy.

    Throughout the 80-minute show, the audience is presented with a variety of breathtaking circus acts and classical dance. The performers exhibit extreme precision and talent with stunts ranging from bold acrobatics to ring twirling — that is, ring twirling while spinning on his head.

    “The circus acts were incredible,” says audience member, Jennifer Bewsher. “The combination of the circus with EDM made the show very unique. I have never seen anything like it.”

    EDM has jammed its way into the mainstream, pop music scene over the last several years. In this new age of music, fame of music icons has moved beyond the vocal musicians and onto the turntables of the world’s greatest disc jockeys and music producers.

    The score was composed by Brooklyn artist, Ben Talmi. The EDM artists successfully told an audible drama parallel to a visual narration. Talmi was performing onstage throughout the entire performance with occasional guitar solos. This incredible artist kept the story (and the audience) moving.

    The act was a visual duet with a musical masterpiece. Being the first show of its kind, the Circus Electronica cast set the standards high for the future of EDM entertainment.


National News

Lambda Legal Appeals Ruling That Upheld Puerto Rico’s Discriminatory Marriage Ban

PuertoRico-flag2“Puerto Rico has many loving, committed couples who need the dignity and respect of marriage as soon as possible, and we won’t stop fighting on their behalf.”

(San Juan, PR, October 28, 2014) - Today, Lambda Legal filed a notice of appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Conde-Vidal v. Garcia-Padilla, after the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico dismissed the lawsuit seeking to end the Commonwealth’s discriminatory ban on marriage for LGBT couples. The appeal comes just seven days after the court issued its dismissal.

“Puerto Rico has many loving, committed couples who need the dignity and respect of marriage as soon as possible, and we won’t stop fighting on their behalf. The district court's ruling is not only out of step with the rest of the country, it leaves Puerto Rico as the only jurisdiction within the First Circuit to ban marriage for same-sex couples,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal.


Sean Hayes Engaged to Scott Icenogle

29-Oct-14 68News broke October 28 that "Will & Grace" star Sean Hayes is officially engaged to his longtime boyfriend Scott Icenogle. Renowned gay wedding planner Jason Mitchell, author of the first wedding planner for gay men entitled Getting Groomed, can give your readers the full scoop on this exciting news!

Jason can talk about the couple's style and what type of wedding would suit their relationship. He can also discuss popular wedding colors, themes and venues - all important planning steps in the wedding process. Jason also says:

"I’d love to plan their wedding that celebrates their love in an incredibly intimate way. This would not be a huge Hollywood affair for the paparazzi to feast on, but an event that honors their commitment with their closest friends and family.


HRC supports Greg Orman for Senator

29-Oct-14 67We are pleased to announce that HRC has endorsed independent candidate Greg Orman for U.S. Senate. Orman supports marriage equality and other pro-equality legislation.

Senator Roberts has consistently scored zero on HRC's Congressional Scorecard. Help send a new pro-equality voice to Washington. We urge you to vote for Greg Orman, to encourage your friends and family members to vote for him, and to volunteer with his campaign in this final week.

Advance voting is underway!

Any registered Kansas voter can vote early. If you haven't already cast your ballot,


Lambda Legal Sues Texas Prison System on Behalf of Transgender Woman over Persistent Sexual Abuse and Violence

lambda-legal-logo“Ms. Star has been pleading for protection from rapes, beatings, knifings and threats to her life since she entered TDCJ custody as a teenager, but instead of separating her from aggressors, Texas prison officials have forced her to remain in the general population in male prisons, even though the risk that she would be seriously harmed was obvious.”

Houston, TX (October 23, 2014) - Lambda Legal today filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Passion Star, a transgender woman currently in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), arguing that TCDJ officials have displayed deliberate indifference to threats of sexual assault and violence against Ms. Star in TDCJ’s male facilities.


Lesbian Veteran Will be Buried with Her Late Wife in Idaho Cemetery

Idaho-rainbowflag(Boise, ID, October 22, 2014)—A 74-year-old Navy veteran who challenged Idaho’s marriage equality ban so she could be buried with her late wife in Idaho’s state-run veterans cemetery will have her wishes respected after Idaho state officials agreed to allow the couple to be interred together.

Today, Madelynn "Lee" Taylor went to the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery to make arrangements to have both her ashes and those of her late wife, Jean Mixner, interred together at the cemetery. Idaho officials agreed to Taylor’s request following the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ (NCLR) recent victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which found that Idaho’s ban on marriage equality violated the U.S. Constitution. The court ordered marriages to begin on October 15, 2014, and directed the state to recognize the marriages of couples who married in other states.


COVER LibertyPress-shadow Nov14




ArtAID 20

Marcia McCoy, Ph.D.

Geena Rocero at KSU Nov 20

Wichita State University Dance