Governor Sam Brownback has already used his administration to make Kansas one of the most social conservative in the nation. Kansas has become the first state to end public funding of the arts and has narrowly missed being the first state to do end abortions.
Now, Brownback is developing a plan to promote marriage. To head up this effort, Brownback has hired Robert Siedlecki. Ironically, Siedlicki is divorced, but he is an advocate of "faith-based" solutions and an opponent of gay marriage. And, he's from Florida, as if Kansas has a shortage of religious right activists.
Tim Carpenter reportedrecently some juicy details about a secret April meeting to design Brownback's marriage agenda. The Topeka Capital-Journal uncovered some information on Brownback's plans through a Kansas Open Records request.
The Kansas government spent $13,000 to bring together 20 mostly far-right marriage "experts" for the closed door meeting.
Organizations represented included the Heritage Foundation, Institute for American Values, Georgia Family Council, National Center for Fathering, Stronger Families, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, Marriage Savers, Kansas Healthy Marriage Institute, and National Center for African American Marriages and Parenting.
Thanks to information from Carpenter and sources, we know something of what Brownback has in mind, even though the details of the meeting remain confidential.
Governor Sam, according to Carpenter, "urged invitees to think in terms of 'Hail Mary' approaches to boosting marriage rates and slashing divorce rates in Kansas."
According to SRS secretary Robert Siedlecki, a Brownback import from Florida, "The governor wants us to create a national model.
Perhaps because he is not the best model as a divorced father and to begin the work on this national model, Seidlecki has hired a minister -- from Florida!
Carpenter also reported that Joyce Webb of Catholic Charities' Kansas Healthy Marriage Institute, recommended that SRS fund a new marriage program with $1 million from federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
Carpenter points out that one invitee Wade Horn "departed the Bush administration amid reports of cronyism in awarding federal grants to the National Fatherhood Initiative he founded. According to OMB Watch, NFI received a five-year, no-bid contract for $12 million."
But, Horn is not the only invitee with shaky ethics.
Michael McMannus, according to wikipedia
On January 28, 2005, it was discovered that McManus was one of three media figures to accept money from the George W. Bush administration for targeted public endorsements of government policy.
McManus was the third person to be implicated in an article by Tom Hamburger of The Los Angeles Times. It was revealed that McManus, who is a self-described "marriage advocate", was paid through a subcontractor of the Department of Health and Human Services to endorse a Bush-approved initiative defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. The payments were said to be $4,000 plus travel expenses, with an additional $49,000 paid to his organization, "Marriage Savers". McManus did not disclose this payment to his readers
Maggie Gallagher, again according to wikipedia...
... received tens of thousands of dollars from the Department of Health and Human Services during 2002 and 2003 for helping the George W. Bush administration promote the President's Healthy Marriage Initiative. During this time, Gallagher testified before Congress in favor of "healthy marriage" programs, but never disclosed the payments. When asked about that situation, she replied "Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it? I don't know. You tell me. ... frankly, it never occurred to me".
After the Washington Post revealed this information on January 26, 2005, Gallagher claimed significant differences between her situation and that of conservative columnist Armstrong Williams, going on to add that "I should have disclosed a government contract when I later wrote about the Bush marriage initiative. I would have, if I had remembered it. My apologies to my readers."
Gallagher received an additional $20,000 from the Bush administration for writing a report, titled "Can Government Strengthen Marriage?", for the National Fatherhood Initiative...
It should surprise no one that Sedlieki made it clear to the TCJ that there would be "no room in the state's program for gays and lesbians interested in marriage or parenting." What is surprising is that some of Brownback experts think polygamy isn't so bad.
Gallagher has said that gay marriage is worse than polygamy, which, "for all its ugly defects, is an attempt to secure stable mother-father families for children".
Another invitee founder of the Institute for American Values Daniel Blankenhorn
was presented to the court as an expert witness in Perry v. Schwarzenegger by the proponents of California Proposition 8 (2008), a constitutional amendment stripping same-sex couples of the right to marry. On cross-examination by David Boies, Blankenhorn stated that marriage's "rule of two people" is not violated by polygamy, because "Even in instances of a man engaging in polygamous marriage, each marriage is separate. He -- one man marries one woman."
We can't know what the Brownback marriage agenda will look like, but there here are some possibilities.
Mike McManus of Marriage Savers wants to get rid of no-fault divorce, limiting it to only cases of physical abuse or adultery. Gallagher not only want to end no-fault divorce, she want to prosecute spouses for adultery.