A bill that passed by the Kansas House on February 12th providing cover for anyone who refuses to provide services to LGBT people will not pass the Kansas senate as it is currently written. Senate President Susan Wagle expressed concern about the impact on businesses who refused services to gay and lesbian couples. Additionally, Wagle said she would like to see the language about extending protections to individual state and local government employees removed. “Public service needs to remain public service for the entire public,” she said.
The Washington Post reports:
“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,” said Wagle, a Wichita Republican. The measure would prohibit government sanctions or lawsuits over faith-based refusals to recognize same-sex unions or to provide goods, services, accommodations or employment benefits to couples.
The House’s passage of the measure prompted strong reactions across the country and from several businesses organizations and employers in Kansas, including AT&T, who issued statements urging legislators to stop the measure or rework it. The businesses said the provisions would hurt them and in some cases place them at odds with their own nondiscrimination policies.
Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, said the group sent proposed changes to a House committee before the chamber’s vote that could have addressed some of the current concerns. “If the Senate chooses to move forward with hearings, we look forward to working with them to draft language that will protect the religious liberties of all Kansans, while at the same time ensuring the dignity of gay and lesbian couples across the state,” Witt said.
Most Senate Democrats oppose the House bill and think the issue should be left alone this session.
“I think she made the right decision,” said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat. “I don’t think there is any sense in trying to beat a dead horse on this bill that basically legalizes discrimination.”
There is now bipartisan opposition to such a drastic bill. You can read the full story in the Washington Post.