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Raising bar on what it means to be Kansan

Didn't think it would come to this, but it's starting to look a lot like being an American, proud as we are of our country, is just about the same as being a member of the junior varsity team.

It's nice, but it's getting easier to be just an American than it is to be a Kansan. That's the varsity team.

What?

Well, we could start with the Internal Revenue Service deciding that same-sex couples that got legally married in states that allow that -- not Kansas, of course -- are indeed a couple, a married couple who can file a joint income tax return. Boy/girl, boy/boy, girl/girl: It doesn't matter to the federal tax collectors, no matter where the couple ends up living in the United States.

The Kansas Department of Revenue decided last week that this marriage status might be OK for the federal government, but if those legally married same-sex couples live in Kansas, well, they are just two individual taxpayers.

Gay couples can get married out of state, move here, pay their federal taxes at the same rates as conventionally married couples, and they've done all that the federal government needs done.

But Kansas, a little fussier under its anti gay-marriage constitutional amendment of 2005, will tell that gay couple how to divvy up between them what's left after the feds have taken a bite out of their income, and tax each as individuals, or maybe head of household, if they have dependents. The state constitutional amendment provides for that, though we wonder how many voters actually read the last sentence of the ballot question about "rights and incidents of marriage."

This American taxpayer business, that's the easy part. Being a Kansas taxpayer will take more work ... tax accountants, are you listening?

And voting? Looks like just about any American at least 18 years old can vote for the president and members of Congress. No big deal.

But if you are in Kansas and want to vote for a state legislator or governor or secretary of state, or maybe a mayor or a school board member, that's different.

Us Kansans have to prove U.S. citizenship and also pony up an official photo identification to vote for that legislator or drainage district board member -- and just hope we haven't changed our hair style between elections.

Yes, the tax business is just for gays, but the voting is for everyone.

And it's all because of laws passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, or a constitutional amendment that Kansans approved, that we've raised the bar on just what it means for us to be real Kansans -- not just "Americans."

Do Kansans like it like that? Well, if you don't care for gay marriage, that might work out OK for you. If you're picky about who votes on state and local officers, maybe this proof-of-citizenship photo ID deal is OK.

We'll probably find out when the Legislature meets in January.

Syndicated by Hawver News Co. of Topeka, Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report. To learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit www.hawvernews.com.