A Close One in Kansas: Anti-Gay Bill Dies in State Legislature

A bill legalizing discrimination against gay couples flew through the states House

Imagine life in Kansas being swept back decades to a period where civil liberties were not respected. That almost happened. And it still could, if the state’s anti-gay bill were to pass. The bill, approved by the state’s House of Representatives last week, would make it perfectly legal for employers, businesses, day care centers, wedding officiants and others to discriminate against lesbian and gay couples.

Last Wednesday, the Kansas House voted 72-49 to approve the bill, which provides legal protections to individuals and businesses that deny service to same-sex couples—in particular, those seeking to get married. Under the proposed law, individuals, businesses and state government employees would be allowed to refuse service if they have “sincerely held religious beliefs” opposing same-sex marriage.

Although the bill allegedly protects religious “liberties”, it’s a green light for open discrimination. “Liberties” seems like an ironic word to use, as that’s exactly what Kansas would take away from the LGBT community.

The good news? It is unlikely to become law. Choosing her words carefully, Senate President Susan Wagle—herself a conservative Republican—said, “I believe the intent of the House was to protect religious liberties. We respect that, but the business implications are going to harm the practice of employment in Kansas.”

Yes, the legislation would do harm to businesses—and obliterate the civil rights of LGBT people across the state

For example, if a lesbian couple driving through Kansas needed a night of rest in a motel, they could be turned down. If two gay men walked into a convenience store to buy condoms, to keep themselves safe from STDs, they could be denied at the register. If a same-sex couple wanted to enroll their child at a day care center, where he or she could learn and play, they couldn’t do that, either.

Wagle announced last week that a majority of Senate Republicans would vote against the bill, if and when it comes up for a vote. She and other conservatives believe in “traditional marriage”, she says, but they “don’t condone discrimination.”

In light of Wagle’s statement, it appears that the Kansas anti-gay bill will, in all likelihood, die without a Senate vote.

That was a close one, Sunflower State—too close.

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