The Republican-led Kansas House on
Wednesday approved a bill which seeks to allow businesses and
individuals to discriminate against gays.
Kansas State Rep. Charles Macheers'
bill (HB 2453) cleared the House with a 72-49 vote.
The measure would allow individuals,
businesses and religious groups with “sincerely held religious
beliefs” to refuse to provide services, facilities, goods,
employment or employment benefits related to the marriage, civil
union, domestic partnership or “similar arrangement” of a gay or
“[N]o refusal by an individual or
religious entity to engage in any activity described in section 1 …
shall result in … A civil claim or cause of action under state or
local law based upon such refusal,” the bill states.
Supporters say the bill is needed to
protect religious freedom in the event that federal courts declare
unconstitutional the state's 2005 voter-approved constitutional
amendment banning gay marriage.
Recent federal rulings striking down
similar marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma could impact Kansas
because all three states fall under the jurisdiction of the 10th
Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which is reviewing both cases.
“Discrimination is horrible,”
Macheers, the bill's sponsor, told The
Topeka Capital-Journal. “There have been times throughout
history where people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs
because they were unpopular.”
“This bill expressly permits
discrimination against my neighbor in the name of religious freedom,”
Rep. Sydney Carlin, a Democrat opposed to the measure said.