A Kansas Republican lawmaker has
introduced a bill which would allow businesses and individuals to
discriminate against gays.
Kansas State Rep. Charles Macheers'
proposal is scheduled to be heard Tuesday morning in the House's
Federal and State Affairs Committee.
The measure (HB
2453) 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 lesbian couple.
“[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.
“The bill protects religious
individuals and religious entities on both sides of the issue of
told the AP in an email. “This is about guaranteeing a high
standard of religious freedom in a context that scholars on both
sides of the marriage issue agree presents some challenges.”
Republican Governor Sam Brownback said
he was open to the legislation in principle but did not endorse it
A constitutional amendment banning gay
marriage was overwhelmingly (70%) approved by voters in 2005.
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.
Tom Witt, executive director of
Equality Kansas, the state's leading LGBT rights advocate, said:
“This is one of the most offensive bills I've seen come out of
in South Dakota have introduced similar legislation.