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A Religious Right to be Anti-Gay? Kansas Advances It

A Religious Right to be Anti-Gay? Kansas Advances It

 

A religious right to fire someone because they’re gay? Kansas House lawmakers, both Republican and Democratic,  just advanced a bill that says yes, it is a matter of religious freedom.

Reports LJ World.com:

The bill was approved 89-27.

[...]

The measure is supported by Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration, the Kansas Catholic Conference and Concerned Women for America of Kansas. It was opposed by Lawrence officials, the Kansas Equality Coalition and the state chapter of the National Organization for Women.

Right before advancing the Kansas Preservation of Freedom Act, the House gave preliminary approval to putting a chapel for prayer and meditation in the Statehouse.

Both proposals will require a final vote before going to the Senate. Those votes will probably be taken Thursday.

The “Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” as it is known, apparently comes as a reaction to the college town of Lawrence passing an anti-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation.

Lawmakers said they were keen to ensure that citizens’ “religious right” to freedom of expression was not impacted by local governments exceeding state law and enacting sexual orientation-inclusive nondiscrimination rules.

However, when lawmakers were discussing this bill earlier in the year they even seemed to admit that they were using their religion as an excuse to discriminate.

Reports the Advocate (emphasis mine):

“I don’t think an ordinance should trump other people’s religious rights,” said Rep. Jan Pauls, a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee that heard testimony about the bill. During a forum earlier this year, Pauls gave an example to explain why she backs the bill, saying an employer should be allowed to fire a “cross dresser.”

“The question is personal belief as far as religion,” she said. “Should that be trumped by forcing people to then support a lifestyle that they don’t support due to their religion?”

“If this law were passed,” Pauls explained, “people could bring up their religion as a reason that they did not want to follow the ordinances.”

While the bill received overwhelming support during Wednesday’s vote, some lawmakers did stand up against it, including State Rep. Charlie Roth, R-Salina, who said that Kinzer’s legislation was “homophobic.” He reportedly went so far as to say that the bill would hurt Kansas’ image because “it sends the message that Kansas is not welcoming. Kansas will become known as the land of the pure as defined by the few.”

This bill is similar to one passed in Tennessee last year that nullified local ordinances that exceed state level protections.

The Kansas bill would appear to fall just short of that by packaging this as an opt-out clause rather than a provision that, short of Legislature action, serves as a blanket ban on sexual orientation-inclusive provisions.

This is likely to try and fend off legal challenges like the one currently underway in Tennessee, but the chilling effect on civil rights is essentially the same — lesbian and gay citizens would remain vulnerable to workplace, housing and credit discrimination, and local government powers will be curtailed.

What is perhaps worse in this case however, is that the state Legislature is explicitly attempting to write into law an overreaching provision for religious privilege.

 

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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Jeesy Creesy.

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107 comments

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1:05AM PDT on May 14, 2013

My daughter was forced out of her flat because she is gay, her partner, a lovely hard working woman has been fired because she is gay. I used to laugh at the stories I would read about some right wing fundie's rant on homosexuals but since I have seen this discrimination up close it is no longer funny.
Lives can be wrecked by this mindless hate perpetrated by these so called good Christians. I am tired of hearing and seeing people being hurt through hatred and ignorance.
Time to stand up and support gay rights. I am doing it for my daughter, her partner and all the LGBTQ people out there.
It is time to put an end to hate and start fighting for the rights of all people, not just the few and I swear if one more person tells me that God hates gays I will throw up...on them.

10:20AM PDT on May 11, 2013

"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Mahatma Gandhi

8:57PM PDT on Mar 10, 2013

There is a difference betwen anti homosexuality and anti homosexuals. You would love people and hate what they do.

11:03AM PDT on May 30, 2012

Could I open a business in Kansas & refuse to hire straights?

8:44AM PDT on May 30, 2012

@ Suzanne L: This is not crazy nor madness

THIS IS RELIGION!

8:39AM PDT on May 30, 2012

This is crazy.

8:32AM PDT on May 30, 2012

Um, I know the buy-bull fairly well (reason why I'm an atheist, buy-bull is the best thing one can read to be an atheist, but read the whole thing) still I can't remember reading where Jesus was talking about the gays

I remember the stories where Jesus talked about the poor, the humble, the oppressed, the downtrodden and how to help them but I get zilch on the "Let's persecute gays". Worse yet, I remember nothing about lesbians at all

I don't mind real christians, there are so few

7:52AM PDT on May 30, 2012

To be honest I think we are following a logical thought pattern in the assessment of 'Christians' Christ more or less gave only 2 commandments ---- The first being to worship no other besides God, the creator ----- 'Christians', many of them, worship Christ INSTEAD of God ----- what logic would lead us to think they would follow the second commandment of Love one another??
Today, the LOUDEST voice of christian faith is filled with fear and hate, calling out for the destruction of LGBT/Muslims/poor/women/non-white/non-Americans... in the name of the bible. Where are the good REAL Christians, if you are too afraid to speak up they can not be stopped. How will you respond to the question of what you did to stop their intention of genocide on the day of atonement ???

7:12AM PDT on May 30, 2012

so.... just how long will it be before it is legal for a male supervisor to demand sexual favors from ANY female subordinate in order to determine that they are not in fact lesbians?? This is disgusting, religious freedom does not INCLUDE taking freedom away from all others who do not attend your particular church--- the GOP has quite a 'slavery' agenda.... they want our employers to make our health care decisions instead of allowing us to make those choices with the advice of our medical professionals..... now they are passing a law that states that your employer can choose who you are going to have sex with ----- is there any portion of our lives or bodies not under the direct control of our owner/employer...... not unless you are born rich

7:27PM PDT on May 29, 2012

Preserving religious freedom in such a way could destroy the freedom of religion. Given this law, it would not be difficult for someone to refuse to "support a lifestyle that they don’t support due to their religion" by not doing business with anyone whose religion is different. I'm not saying that this is inevitable if the legislation Rep. Pauls is trying to promote succeeds, but I hope she realizes she is saying basically that people have a right to hate whomever they want and treat the targets of their egocentricity worse because of it.

If Rep. Pauls really wants to preserve the freedom of religion, she should introduce legistion fighting discrimination.

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