February 16, 2014

Public Internet Outcry Pauses Discrimination Bill in Kansas.

born this way sign

The State government in Kansas has realized that the discrimination bill that passed the house last week was a huge rallying cry for those of us that want a less extreme government.

A quick summary in case you aren’t aware. This has made national news now, but a lot of people may not pay much attention to what goes on here in Kansas.

Last week the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill called House Bill 2453. It allows government employees and private businesses to refuse service on the basis of sexual orientation. They call it a religious freedom issue.

If that doesn’t sound bad to you, imagine a gay couple’s house is on fire. Firefighters come to put it out, but upon realizing the house is owned by gay people, they decide to turn around and go home.

Under this bill, which we call the discrimination bill, this could happen.

There are already a lot of ways in which discrimination isn’t allowed. That’s important to note because this bill and bills like it in other states are seeking to make it so that gays are singled out as the people that we can discriminate against. It’s anti-equality disguised as religious freedom.

The bill’s main sponsor, Charles Macheers of Shawnee, Kansas said it’s only supposed to apply to marriage related things, so a cake company doesn’t have to sell a cake to a gay couple and a worker in the courthouse doesn’t have to issue a gay marriage license. (Although gay marriage is already banned in Kansas, so that probably won’t come up any time soon.)

Susan Wagle, the President of the Kansas Senate has said that the bill can’t pass the Senate in its current form.

What does this mean?

It seems like a win for us. The bill that allows open discrimination against gay people won’t go to the governor’s desk in its current form. That’s good—few people think he would veto it.

But it isn’t over. The bill will likely be re-written in a way that seems less discriminatory. It might be less vague and less obviously open to abuse. But it will still be a bill about discrimination.

It will still be an anti-gay bill disguised as a religious freedom bill. I don’t see this going away unless the people that voted for this bill are voted out of office.

It will still be an embarrassment.

There’s a protest going on at the Kansas House of Representatives in Topeka on February 25th. I hope a lot of people show up.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Guillaume Paumier/Flickr

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