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Kansas and Tennessee work to legalize religious-based discrimination

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Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13Earlier this week, bills backing religious-based discrimination against the LGBT community advanced in both Kansas and Tennessee. Kansas passed its bill when, around the same time, a similar bill was introduced in Tennessee.

Queerty explained the situation in Kansas:

The Kansas state House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow virtually anyone in Kansas, including business owners, employees and government workers, to refuse to provide services to LGBT individuals on the grounds of “religious liberty.” . . .

The bill, which passed 72-49, would essentially allow anyone to provide any type of wedding-related service to gays and lesbians using the excuse of their religious belief. Even more troublesome, the bill allows individual government workers who object to marriage equality to refuse to provide services on the same grounds, although the services must still be available. Of course, in rural counties, the individual workers who object may be the only government representatives around.

Additionally, Queerty described the surprising argument behind the bill:

In an argument that gives new meaning to the word Orwellian, the bill’s sponsor, Charles Macheers (R.-As If You Had To Ask), insists that the bill actually prevents discrimination.

“Discrimination is horrible. It’s hurtful … It has no place in civilized society, and that’s precisely why we’re moving this bill,” he said. “There have been times throughout history where people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs because they were unpopular. This bill provides a shield of protection for that.”

Meanwhile, Towleroad reported on the newly introduced bill in Tennessee, quoting local news affiliate FOX13 and sharing the video above:

The bill notes that businesses can refuse services and goods only if it furthers a civil union, domestic partnership, or same-sex marriage. The person or business would just have to say it was against their religion. For example, if a same-sex couple wanted a cake for their wedding reception, a bakery could refuse to cater to them.

Jonathan Cole of the Tennessee Equality Project says the bill is making discrimination legal.

"It's bad for business," Cole said. "It's bad for attracting talent that would be offered a job to come and work for a corporation here in Tennessee. When they see bills like this capturing the headlines, it really reflects poorly on the state."

Read the full stories at Queerty and Towleroad.

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