Press Room

April 12, 2005

Category: Civil Unions, Domestic Partners

HRC Launches National Tour in Kansas on Heels of Amendment Battle

'Like most Americans who live in states that recently passed amendments, the conversation here is only just beginning,' said HRC president Joe Solmonese.

WASHINGTON - On one of his first stops in the Human Rights Campaign's national "On the Road to Equality" tour, HRC President Joe Solmonese held a town hall meeting in Kansas last night. Solmonese and the crowd of more than 100 students, families, community leaders and others discussed the need to educate the public about how anti-marriage amendments deny critical rights and responsibilities to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

"Like most Americans who live in states that recently passed amendments, the conversation here is only just beginning," Solmonese added. "We know that as more Americans come to know gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in our neighborhoods, at our jobs and in houses of worship, they move toward fairness and equality, not away from it."

Those who attended the event included local residents, religious and business leaders and members of the GLBT community. The event was protested by members of Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., who held signs that said, among other things, "God Hates Fags."

Solmonese's visit comes just one week after voters approved a state constitutional amendment that denies marriage - and possibly civil unions and domestic partnerships - to same-sex couples in Kansas. HRC was proud to work with Kansans for Fairness to educate voters about this amendment.

"We have to accelerate education and outreach like never before. As more of the American people understand that GLBT Americans have the same fears and hopes as everyone else, stereotypes will evaporate and fairness will prevail," Solmonese added.

Earlier in the day, Solmonese met with religious leaders in the Topeka, Kan., area. Wednesday, he will be in Kansas City, Mo., to meet with Mayor Kay Barnes and other community leaders. Solmonese heads next to Detroit, Dallas and Birmingham, Ala.

Follow HRC's "On the Road to Equality Tour." The site includes an informative travelogue, photos and streaming video of events and a list of upcoming stops.