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 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.

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.