Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison said in the legal opinion that the proposed registry does not conflict with the Kansas Constitution, which bans same-sex marriage. The opinion, though, does say that the registry would need to be open only to Lawrence residents, or else the city could be found to be overstepping its constitutional authority.
That isn’t quite right. The opinion (PDF link) is clear that there is no conflict with the marriage amendment. The only scenario the AG’s office can imagine in which a court might strike down the registry is if a different municipality argued that allowing its citizens to register in Lawrence’s registry somehow deprives that municipality of the right not to acknowledge those relationships.
That seems odd, since the whole point is that this grants no rights beyond what private employers choose to grant. No law could forbid an employer in Topeka from reviewing the Lawrence registry, and it’s hard to see how Topeka would be harmed by having private employers grant insurance benefits on the basis of a Lawrence registry.
Given the stated purpose of the registry to attract businesses and their employees, the City Commission may want to restrict registration to residents or employees of companies within city limits. Restricting it only to residents seems like it would just complicate things. The suggestion that Lawrence would be treading on other cities’ ability to regulate their own behavior seems silly. Other municipalities are not obliged to acknowledge Lawrence’s registry, or may choose to provide their own registries with different conditions. They have lost no rights through this action on the part of Lawrence, so I fail to see how this has any meaningful extraterritorial effect.
Given that new Commission members Dever and Chestnut both said they’d wait for the AG’s opinion before making up their minds, it’s likely that the registry will be created, possibly with a residency requirement.