On Wednesday, February 12, the Kansas House voted 72-49 to approve HB 2453, which offers legal protection to individuals and businesses that refuse service for homosexual couples, specifically those looking to get married. Under the bill’s language, individuals, businesses and government employees would be immune from legal reprisal for refusing service if they have “sincerely held religious beliefs” opposing customers’ marriages. The bill is described as protecting religious freedom.
The Kansas House of Representatives passed the bill (pdf) (A copy of the Kansas Bill is attached as Appendix A) that would have broadly legalized discrimination against homosexuals. The bill was halted. But the fight isn’t over.
Conservatives are trying to use religious freedom as a means of limiting the effects of the spread of homosexual values upon the majority population.Clearly Christians and other morally offended Americans have had enough, but what is a reasonable response to the radical homosexual agenda?
Supporting the bill on the Kansas House floor, Republican state Rep. Charles Macheers proclaimed that “discrimination is horrible. It’s hurtful. … It has no place in civilized society, and that’s precisely why we’re moving this bill.”
The bill, written out of fear that the state may soon face an Oklahoma-style gay marriage ruling, will now easily pass the Republican Senate and be signed into law by the Republican governor. The result will mark Kansas as the first state, though certainly not the last, to legalize separate homosexual and straight people in virtually every arena of life.
The bill’s scope was impressive in its expansiveness: Kansans would have been able to legally refuse to provide just about any service to anyone whose relationship they find offensive for religious reasons. The bill specifically enumerated adoption, foster care, counseling, social services, employment and employment benefits, as well as the general categories of “services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges”, as permissible areas for refusing to provide the service.
In addition to barring all anti-discrimination lawsuits against private employers, the new law permits government employees to deny service to gays in the name of “religious liberty.” This is nothing new, but the sweep of Kansas’ statute is breathtaking. Any government employee is given explicit permission to discriminate against gay couples—not just county clerks and DMV employees, but literally anyone who works for the state of Kansas.
And if a homosexual believed himself to have been discriminated against by anyone decided to sue, they would have not only lost, but under this bill, they would have had to pay the prevailing parties' attorney’s fees.
This backlash is, quite possibly, a response to the increasing spread of homosexual marriage, and the wave of law suits brought by homosexual couples against legitimate private business owners who refuse to take pictures at homosexual weddings and refuse to bake wedding cakes for homosexual couples because it violates the conscious and transgresses the religious rights of the business owners.
This is the real area of debate. It is whether religiously affiliated institutions like schools or churches and for-profit, non-religiously affiliated businesses should be able to turn away homosexual customers on the grounds of religious freedom. It's the wedding-cake scenario, where an employee at a bakery or a photographer is asked to provide services to a same-sex couple celebrating a wedding. The tragic part of that is that homosexuals believe that it is justifiable to drive those small business owners out of business all together because they find it offensive to their religious beliefs to work for homosexual couples. Some of these family businesses have been around for 30 to 50 years.
In Kansas homosexual marriage has been banned by constitutional amendment since 2006. Kansas legislators asserted that this law was intended to protect the rights of normal religious folks to exercise their beliefs without state interference.
Religious freedom is a cornerstone of the US constitution. The right to live and worship as we choose is a foundational American value, highlighted in the very first of the original amendments.
As the Kansas defeat suggests, socially conservative states are inclined to pass more expansive exemptions. But legislators in other red states will likely take a lesson from the defeat and limit their scope; however, they will still be broader than those in, say, liberal Massachusetts. Just how broad depends on how quickly legislators in red states act. The Kansas bill didn’t become law possibly because it was overly broad. It was a beginning. More of these laws are being drafted in other states. They are headed for the U S Supreme Court. Since Freedom Of Religion is a Constitutionally protected fundamental American right guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and homosexual marriage is not mentioned in the Constitution, the Left-leaning Supreme Court will have to decide which right is deserving of Constitutional protection.
APPENDIX A. The full text of the Kansas Bill.