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Kansas House Green Lights Anti-Gay Bill

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Mar 30, 2012
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Earlier this week, the Kansas House approved a legislation that would allow people to discriminate against the LGBT community based on the individual’s religious beliefs, LJWorld.com reported.

Gay rights supporters and politicians, including two representatives from Lawrence, KS, have criticized the bill, called the "Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act". The sixth-largest city in the state has an anti-discrimination ordnance that includes sexual orientation.

"I am very proud of my Lawrence community, and I’m very proud of the ordinance that we passed." State Rep. Barbara Ballard (D-Lawrence) said. "Discrimination is an injustice. It is an injustice to everyone."

House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D-Lawrence) added, "I don’t believe it is ever right to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation."

House members voted 89-27 in favor of the act, which prevents the government from making individuals to do something against their religious beliefs, the Kansas City Star reported.

Rep. Charlie Roth (R) of Salina, a city in the wheat-producing area of north-central Kansa, also voiced his concerns about the legislation.

"This bill is homophobic and makes Kansas exclusive, not inclusive," Roth before the vote. "This will be a negative economic development tool and sends a message that Kansas is not welcoming but the land of the pure, defined by the few."

"This will have a chilling effect on Salina’s ordinance and people who are different who might want to move to our city or state," Roth said after the vote. "I think this bill is not friendly and not welcoming to people who are different."

"This has been a controversial thing in the state, but I don’t think we need to add protections for people that are a small part of the population when there have been few complaints, if any," said Rep. Tom Arpke, (R-Salina), who voted in favor of the bill.

Another GOP state representative defended the bill and said it needed to pass to make sure the government couldn’t violate Americans’ religious beliefs.

"Free exercise of religion is at the core of who we are as a people," Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe) said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kanas & Western Missouri condemned the bill and said that it "fails to protect against government-sponsored religious discrimination."

"The ACLU believes there is a better way to protect religious freedom by providing exemptions for prisoners, historic preservation and land use, and existing civil rights protections in Kansas."

Gay rights activists are also slamming the act and say that if it is passed, gays could be discriminated against in areas of employment, access to public accommodations and housing.

"The whole thing is convincing people into believing that this is something that promotes religious freedom, when it is something that takes away human dignity and civil rights," said Stephanie Mott, Director of the Kansas Equality Coalition.

The bill has been in process since 2009 but in February supporters claimed that the act was needed to "protect people from the Obama administration’s ’war on religion,’ WE Blog reported.

"As you consider House Bill 2260, the federal government’s recent attempts to trample the religious liberties of millions of Americans must be at the forefront of your debate," Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer told lawmakers.

Kansas does not recognize marriage equality or civil unions. Hate crime laws protect victims of hate crimes based on sexual orientation but not gender identity.

Watch a video of gay rights supporters opposing the "Preservation of Religious Freedom" act:

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2012-03-30 13:46:22

    Just another reason to NOT visit Kansas. Religion being used fnew hate is nothing new!


  • Anonymous, 2012-03-31 21:54:52

    Religious conservatives like to make the comment that sexual orientation is a choice and therefore discrimination is justified and human rights protection is not necessary. Then they extend this to justifying lying and fear-raising against LGBT people. The truth is that clear scientific and psychological evidence shows sexual orientation is NOT A CHOICE. However, honest people of faith, including Christians, know that religion IS A CHOICE. If you can justify denying human rights protection for LGBT people on grounds of religious belief and saying sexual orientation is a choice, then you MUST also deny human rights protection on grounds of religion. EQUAL RIGHTS FOR EVERYONE; SPECIAL RIGHTS TO NO ONE!


  • Jonathan Willner, 2012-04-01 15:17:00

    Just another reason to reject religion in general and Christianity in particular. Once again, God-loving Christians come down on the side of bigotry. Is this what Jesus taught?


  • Anonymous, 2013-10-31 09:44:08

    Not all Christians are bad. I am a Christian through and through, as well as a Kansan, but these people make me ashamed of my religion AND my state. Shame on Kansas.


  • Anonymous, 2013-10-31 09:57:03

    To Anonymous: I agree with you. However, being of Kansas stock, I can also point out that there are groups in my ancestral state that are standing hard against the religious right. Furthermore, as a Christian, I am not ashamed of my religion, but I am quite ashamed of those who use their religious beliefs (some real, but many just a phoney excuse to justify the unjustifiable) to excuse any and all kinds of bigotry.


  • Jonathan Willner, 2013-10-31 10:56:39

    So what if homosexuality is a choice? Religion is unquestionably a choice. Does that mean that it’s OK to discriminate against Jews or Muslims or Catholics because they could choose to be Evangelical Christians? That’s the response to all those homophobes who claim that it’s acceptable to discriminate against people on the basis of the choices they make. Could we discriminate against heterosexuals who choose NOT to marry? Or against people who choose to have ten or more children? Or against people who choose to smoke, or drink alcohol? Where does it end?


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