It just goes to show that even if an elected official carries a D after their name, it doesn’t mean they care at all about LGBT rights.
You see, this is Kansas. There are basically no repercussions for acting hateful toward people purely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. So I’m not that surprised to hear that Hutchinson Democratic Rep. Jan Pauls came out in opposition to adding sexual orientation to a nondiscrimination clause for safe houses for victims of human trafficking.
Jan Pauls thinks it should be OK for safehouses for victims of human trafficking to discriminate against members of the LGBT community. Wow. Just wow.
Equality Kansas (formerly the Kansas Equality Coalition) and the Kansas Democratic Party’s LGBT Caucus have rightly rebuked Pauls for her stance:
”We unequivocally condemn Representative Pauls’ position on this matter as cruel and inhumane,” said Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas. ”Children, teens, and young adults who are forced into prostitution are victims of horrific crimes, but Mrs. Pauls thinks that if they happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, refusing them treatment is just fine.”
”Once again, Rep. Pauls has targeted LGBT Kansans for unfair and discriminatory treatment,” said Ryon Carey, chairman of the Kansas Democratic Party’s LGBT Caucus. ”For over 20 years, Pauls has not missed an opportunity to wage war against fair treatment for all Kansans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he said.
It’s true, Pauls has never been a friend to gay people in Kansas. Pauls wrote the state’s 1996 law banning same-sex marriage and was the primary supporter of the state’s constitutional amendment that does the same thing. (You can’t be too careful, I guess.) She also fought to keep sodomy illegal in Kansas, because I guess you can just ignore the Supreme Court when they get in the way of your bigotry.
Oh but wait! She’s not a bigot! She just wants to make sure that the nondiscrimination clause falls in line with the rest of state law. Color me skeptical. She’s made quite a track record for herself in the hating gays department. I don’t think her motives are so pure. Also, you know, religious organizations might not like it if they have to help those dirty homos.
According to the Topeka Capital-Journal:
Pauls, a lawyer, said during a hearing Tuesday she was concerned that including sexual orientation in the legal nondiscrimination clauses could prove problematic for religious organizations that wanted to sponsor safe houses. She said she didn’t believe any safe houses would deny victims access to initial treatment based on sexual orientation, but such organizations “might refuse if part of the follow-up treatment is to make the person comfortable in the alternative lifestyle they may have been forced into.”
I’m confused. What does she mean by follow-up treatment that would “make the person comfortable in the alternative lifestyle they have been forced into?” Does she think that being forced into sex slavery will make someone gay?
Maybe she’s confusing cause and effect. LGBT youth are far more likely to be homeless than their heterosexual counterparts, and homelessness is a risk factor for being funneled into human trafficking. According to the American Bar Association, 20 percent of homeless youth in the United States are LGBT, but almost 60 percent of them are sexually exploited. This is compared to the overall rate of 33.4 percent of heterosexual homeless youth that are at risk of sexual exploitation.
These kids are victims of crimes. If the state is going to regulate safe houses for these people, then it certainly better not be legal to discriminate against a population that is especially vulnerable to that type of exploitation. It’s cruel. If we want to help victims of trafficking, no one can be left out.
Photo Credit: Imagens Evangélicas via Flickr