Kansas State Rep. Charles Macheers introduced a bill that would permit discrimination by businesses, groups, and those who do not want to serve LGBT married couples. Kansas follows South Dakota who introduced similar legislation only days earlier.
The legislator pushing the bill says it's designed to protect religious freedom, and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is receptive to the idea, though he hasn't yet studied the proposal enough to offer a formal endorsement.
However, critics say the measure promotes discrimination against gays and lesbians, and is so broadly written that it could apply to any couple, gay or straight, with a less-than-traditional union.
Kansas already had a law against gay marriage when voters added a ban to the state constitution in 2005, approving it by a 70 percent margin. But federal judges recently struck down bans in Oklahoma and Utah, and Kansas state Rep. Charles Macheers, a Shawnee Republican who's leading efforts to pass the bill, said court decisions "demonstrate that the legal landscape is in flux."
The measure allows government employees to invoke the rule's protections in providing a lawful service, though it says the agency must "promptly" provide another worker to do so "if it can be done without undue hardship on the employer."
Witt said he can envision numerous scenarios affecting the daily lives of gay couples and their families, such as hospitals refusing visitations to partners or schools not recognizing a partner has a second parent to a child. Also, he said, the language about government employees would allow them to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples even if the courts strike down the state's same-sex marriage ban. Witt said: "This is one of the most offensive bills I've seen come out of here."
It is disturbing that state legislators are trying to use their beliefs and prejudices as a mask to pass laws that give people, who don’t have a proper understanding of loving LGBT relationships, the legal cover to discriminate against LGBT people. It's irresponsible and hurtful. These proposed bills are a sad example of the many state representatives who do not have any understanding about the love LGBT couples share and their desire for equal protection under the law. Not special protection, just equal protection.
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