I just read all of HOUSE BILL No. 2453, recently passed the Kansas Legislature.
It is described as “protecting religious freedom regarding marriage” in the excerpt that leads to it from the Kansas Legislature list of bills. It’s only three pages long. I encourage you to do the same, but you don’t have to read very far to understand it’s intent. You can find it here: hb2453_01_0000.pdf
Here is how it begins:
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:
Section 1. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender:
(a) Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement;”
Read that again and let it soak in. If it were to pass the Senate, and I am a business in Kansas today, February 15, 2014, and MY religious beliefs say that YOU should not be living together prior to marriage, I can refuse to provide you services. I can refuse to provide you a room at my hotel, for example, if you are not married to each other and I don’t agree with your “domestic partnership.” It is a bill that was directed specifically at gay relationships, but the wording provides for any religiously unacceptable relationship to be banned delivery of services.
Furthermore, it extends this right to discriminate to anyone an individual or religious entity might consider to be complicit. Meaning, for example, that because I officiated at the wedding of a gay couple, I could be denied those services as well. That’s what “related to the celebration of” means to me. I don’t think I’m reading that wrong. I don’t think I’m reading any of it wrong. Unlike most bills I read, this one is really easy to understand.
It goes on to say that no business that turns away gays (or others that an individual deems to be engaging in, or in the celebration of, a relationship that goes against their religious beliefs) shall be prosecuted for doing so. It says that any individual employee can ask their employer to find another employee to serve a gay person or couple, or a couple “living in sin.” A business can put up a sign that says, “no gays welcome here,” or a sign that says “no fornicators welcome here,” and face no consequences. Heck, even their attorneys fees are recoverable in this law if someone decides to challenge their newly legalized right to discriminate.
I have no idea how far Kansas just set back the clock. But I think Queen Victoria would be very happy in Kansas right now.
I, however, would not be.