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.
Randy Hooker says
Excellent synopsis, Jeff! And I couldn’t agree with you more. Just how long and far will the anti-LGBT suppoerters ride the crest of insanity?!?!
Jack Boardman says
Todd Carpenter (@tcar) says
Loving v Virginia
Teri Conrad says
Don’t you just love legal speak? It almost makes it sound nice. It never ceases to amaze me how intolerance continues to permeate our world. I appreciate this post. As a mother of a confident gay 18 year old beautiful son I have to say: the world still scares me.
Jennie Melvin says
I had to read it 3 time, because I thought for sure I was reading it incorrectly, or that is was some joke. How disappointing it is to see such backwards thinking. I wonder how many of the citizens of the state of Kansas are aware of this bill. Surely they snuck it in there and that is not the general consensus….
Kathleen Seide says
Wow. This is amazing. I’m going to go look up the federal antidiscrimination laws, I’m interested how they will interact.
Besides the obvious, I’m really concerned about the last few words in section 1: “if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender” – it doesn’t say ‘sex or gender in marriage’
The way I’m reading it, it is more about gender then marriage. If someone believes that divorce is wrong according to their religion then they can refuse to serve me if I Pam a divorced woman. I can go to the hardware store and they won’t sell to me. I could take my kids out for dinner and they won’t serve us. Maybe I am traveling with a friend, who happens to be another woman, the hotels could refuse to register room because they’re afraid we might possibly be gay lovers. Or maybe the person behind the desk just doesn’t think women should have their own money and spend it, and refuse to sell me anything at all…
I’m not sure, but I don’t think I’m reading this wrong. I don’t think the text in Line 1 is going to stop the things I mentioned above from happening. Or will it? Line 1: “AN ACT concerning religious freedoms with respect to marriage.”
Also, I think section C on page 3 does protect the officiant in a same-sex marriage:
“(c) Nothing in sections 1 through 4, and amendments thereto, shall be construed to authorize any governmental discrimination or penalty against any individual or religious entity based upon its performance, facilitation or support of any celebrations of same-gender unions or relationships.”
If this passes I’ll have a good reason never to set foot in Kansas!
Jeff Turner says
I don’t think you’re reading it wrong either. It goes way beyond the case Joe uses as an example below.
Curious of your views on cases like this one. These are becoming more and more common. Does a business owner have any rights?
Jeff Turner says
Would I have rather seen the gay couple in this situation respect the beliefs of this photographer, I can answer yes to that question without changing my opinion of the proposed Kansas law. Partly because I’m not sure why they would want a photographer who didn’t want to be there shooting their photos. Would I feel the same way if it was a hamburger place refusing to serve them a hamburger? Not even close. The edges of every issue are always a little blurry.
Matt Reyes Sr. says
You don’t even need to be a proponent of gay marriage to see the ridiculousness in this legislation.
Here’s a few things that I know.
This law is stupid because it restates a freedom that can, does and should already exist. If I don’t want to serve you, Jeff, or sell you something, I should be allowed to make my decision for any – or no – reason. There is something limiting about
If I want to be a bigoted, provincial inbred baseborn waste of space, it’s my choice. It’s fully and completely repugnant, but it’s part of freedom.
A person that would compel another to sell to them against their will is either a thief or a tyrant. Even when the seller is a complete pig.
The price of freedom is making choices that exclude others. Freedom is just that: we are free and autonomous. It’s not always neat, and there are things that happen that I dislike.
That is – for all of us – a superior way to live than having to answer to yet another arbiter of ‘justice.’