Kansas Senate Comes Out Against Anti-Gay Legislation

After the Kansas House voted in favor of a bill that would offer legal protection to individuals and businesses who wished to deny services to gay and lesbian individuals and couples – particularly those wishing to get married, – the Senate decided Friday that they would not approve it. “I believe the intent of the House was to protect religious liberties,” said Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, a Republican from Wichita. “We respect that, but the business implications are going to harm the practice of employment in Kansas.” She added, “Public service needs to remain public service for the entire public.”

If signed into law, HB 2453 would allow the refusal of government services to same-sex couples, as well as private services such as access to stores and medical services, making LGBTQ people effectively second-class citizens. Despite the Senate’s announcement, some are afraid that the bill may be slightly amended and then passed.

Slate called HB 2453, which allows individuals, groups, and private businesses to refuse service to gay couples, fire gay people, and even block entry to buildings to folks based purely on their sexuality, ”a blank check to discriminate.” The legislation is centered specifically around marriage and other forms of unions by same-sex couples, but because it was written to preserve “religious liberty,” all individual employees can use their own religion to justify discrimination — including cops, teachers, nurses, pharmacists, hotel owners, and doctors alike. Gay people could be banished from public life, one by one, employee by employee and business by business. No gay people in the park, no gay people in the grocery store, no gay people in hospitals or schools. People who attempted, as they inevitably would, to challenge anti-gay discrimination would get stuck paying the lawyer fees for their opponents. The legislation would bring a new era of segregation in Kansas. ”If the bill passes,” Lisbeth Hunter wrote for Ryot, ”gay people won’t be able to feel safe anywhere.”