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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Lawrence ordinance at center of fight over Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act

February 20, 2012

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— A legislative committee on Monday approved a bill that supporters said would protect religious freedom, but opponents said the measure could be used to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

“This is nothing more than legislative gay-bashing,” said Thomas Witt, president of the Kansas Equality Commission, after the House Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 2260, which is called the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act.

During discussion on the bill, one of its main proponents, Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, referred to the city of Lawrence’s anti-discrimination ordinance, which includes protections based on sexual orientation.

She said that ordinance could violate a business person’s religious beliefs if that person didn’t want to hire someone who was gay, transgender or cross-dressing. She used the example of a day care business.

“The situation in Lawrence, it then trumps the freedom of religion in our Constitution,” she said. “You cannot use your religion as a defense under that existing ordinance,” she said.

But opponents said the bill, if enacted, would open the door to discrimination.

“This isn’t about freedom of religion. This is about freedom to discriminate against people who you don’t agree with,” said Rep. Annie Kuether, D-Topeka.

Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, however, said the measure was needed especially now because of President Barack Obama’s decision to require birth control coverage, which has been protested by some Catholic officials.

But Kuether said that was a smokescreen, noting the bill was first introduced last year right after the city of Manhattan approved an anti-discrimination ordinance covering sexual orientation, and hearings on the bill last year dealt with same-sex marriage.

The measure would prohibit government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless it furthered a compelling interest and was done in the least restrictive way possible. Discrimination would not be allowed against individuals covered by the Kansas Act Against Discrimination. This includes discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin or ancestry.

Lawrence officials testified against the bill, saying the local ordinance extended beyond the protections of the state law. But Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration weighed in in favor of it.

Judiciary Chairman Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, said there was nothing in the bill that would invalidate a local ordinance.

“There is not a single local ordinance on the books right now that will come off based on passing this,” Kinzer said.

The measure, approved in committee on a voice vote, now goes to the full House for consideration. Kinzer said he did not know if or when the bill would be debated.

Comments

mustrun80 2 years, 1 month ago

If lefties get all hot and bothered about some "theocracy" when conservatives invoke their religious motivations - why is it ok for lefties to do the same?

Anyone??

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TinmanKC 2 years, 1 month ago

My religion commands that we are to welcome the alien and sojourner in our midst. In fact there are at least 5 times as many Bible verses commanding hospitality and shelter for the aliens as there are verses about homosexuality. So... if this bill passes... and also the Kobach bill that makes sheltering aliens illegal... I can pull out my religion card and thumb my nose at Mr. Kobach? The government would be infringing on my religious practice of welcoming the alien. (Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:33-34, Deuteronomy 27:19, Romans 12:13, etc.)

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TinmanKC 2 years, 1 month ago

Here's my question: The text of the bill says: “Burden” means any government action that directly or indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails or denies the exercise of religion by any person or compels any action contrary to a person's exercise of religion, and includes, but is not limited to, withholding benefits, assessing criminal, civil or administrative penalties, or exclusion from government programs or access to government facilities."

So, since my church recognizes and celebrates marriage between two people of the same gender, won't this bill mean that the state can no longer discriminate against my same-gender marriage? They would be inhibiting and constraining the exercise of my religion AND withholding benefits that people of other faiths get.

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Ray Parker 2 years, 1 month ago

Free exercise of religion means freedom to refuse to endorse, condone, tolerate, facilitate, or participate in immoral conduct, or the promotion of such vile behavior.

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tir 2 years, 1 month ago

This isn't just about the potential for using one's "religious freedom" as an excuse to deny gays, lesbians, and bisexuals their civil rights. A law like this could be abused in such a way that it could potentially deny ANYONE their rights.

Personally, I believe someone else's religious freedom ends where another person's civil rights begin. Believe whatever you want, but we cannot let you force your code of conduct on the rest of us. This country is not a theocracy (yet), although there are a lot of politicians running for President who seem to want to make it one.

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autie 2 years, 1 month ago

I Christ were to come back today, the one thing he wouldn't be is a Christian.

(from a source)

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Michele Dillon 2 years, 1 month ago

I am a Christian - Christian means displaying Christlike behavior. Christ hated the sin not the sinner. Christ ate with the tax collectors and loved the prostitutes. He never discriminated against a person. He befriended them. He questioned those who judged. I am tired of Christians with this higher than thou attitude. The behavior of same sex relationships is a sin, according to the bible but we ar all sinners. Having someone work for you or with you does not condone any behaviors but accepts the person.

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UltimateGrownup 2 years, 1 month ago

This article is loaded with false premises. Homosexuality is not a race, so the concept of "discrimination" does not apply. Homosexuality is a form of sex that is widely frowned upon and is illegal (Lawrence v. Texas illegality notwithstanding) in Kansas. In that sense, homosexuality is like pedosexuality, flashing, and other self-defeating and illegal sexual behaviors. Further, the original ordinance was a solution in search of a problem. I've not heard of homosexuals having trouble finding a job. Further, the hysteria around this issue is greatly misplaced when there are real problems to which the city council should devote its efforts. Considering President Obama's decree that insurance companies offer birth control coverage, that's another false premise as well. The Constitution does not give the federal president the right to issue decrees, much less tell companies what products they have to sell. Everyone knows this is unconstitutional.

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Ragingbear 2 years, 1 month ago

I would like to announce a new church opening up in the Douglas County Area. It is called the "Church of the Bumper Fishie". We believe that you should be allowed to make terroristic threats toward anyone, sabotage public and private entities,vehicles and facilities, swallow live goldfish, distribute child pornography, kidnap children, pollute the land,water,and air, feed cows lit sticks of dynamite, buy and sell radioactive materials to terroristic organizations, pour oil on bodies of water and set them on fire, kill anyone that doesn't believe the way we do, grind up puppies into a tasty sandwich spread (only live ones, they taste better that way) and we support the rape of random women.

~~Obviously, this post was made in jest. It is an attempt to demonstrate where this type of political garbage could end up taking us. I in no way support the above named activities (that message is for you DHS,CIA and whoever is reading this) or would encourage anyone to actually try or support these activities.~~

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deec 2 years, 1 month ago

Under this, will people be allowed to beat their stubborn children? Stone adulterers? Honor killings? Own slaves? Be forced to marry their dead husband's brothers? Be forced to ingest bitter herbs to cause abortion? Destroy churches that harbor commercial activities?

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 1 month ago

It's right there in simple English: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

From a source: the establishment clause has generally been interpreted to prohibit 1) the establishment of a national religion by Congress, or 2) the preference by the U.S. government of one religion over another. The first approach is called the "separation" or "no aid" interpretation, while the second approach is called the "non-preferential" or "accommodation" interpretation.

My religion recognizes homosexuals as human beings and does not discriminate against them. My religion, a religion of peace and love, accepts contraceptives as a modern medical miracle and does not restrict the use there of. What about my religion? Seems like our legislators are catering to one religion in particular, which is clearly unconstitutional. Just another law suit waiting to happen. We've got plenty of tax dollars for law suits though, don't we? Personally, I'd rather use taxes to pay for lawyers who overcharge for their services than healthcare or education. (sarcasm)

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citizen1 2 years, 1 month ago

At what point does humanity recognize we all have to live on the same planet & must respect each individual. When do we get out of our myopic worlds and stop acting like children and making demands like children.

Mature adults can deal with issues when one side does not try to gain the advantage over another.

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somedude20 2 years, 1 month ago

"She said that ordinance could violate a business person’s religious beliefs if that person didn’t want to hire someone who was gay, transgender or cross-dressing"

Wasn't that the same argument that was used against blacks during segregation?

"My lord don't want me to hire no black heathens. There are white women around..."

Don't let history repeat itself!

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lunacydetector 2 years, 1 month ago

pharmacist: my consience doesn't allow me to prescribe abortifacients because it is against my religious beliefs.... church owned university: our consience doesn't allow us to provide contraception in our employee health insurance plan....

government: yes we can, make you do it...

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JackMcKee 2 years, 1 month ago

I'm surprised the dimwit from Baldwin City, TerriLois Gregory, didn't get quoted in this story.

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sowhatnow 2 years, 1 month ago

The idea of this law seems to be forgetting that freedom of religion and running a business or capitalistic enterprise of some sort are not the same thing. You are entitled to all the freedoms you want at home and at "church". But when you enter the marketplace of a democracy, there's different set of norms and mores. And one of them is that it's illegal to discriminate.

You don't like it? You don't have to participate.

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Ragingbear 2 years, 1 month ago

Freedom of religion is not in the constitution. Only the freedom to not have laws made by the religionists.

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kuguardgrl13 2 years, 1 month ago

Other states are in the process of passing pro-gay marriage laws, and we're stuck going backwards. Wake up, Kansas! Modern society says that anyone should be able to marry whoever they want and women should be able to make their own decisions concerning their bodies.

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Enlightenment 2 years, 1 month ago

It's ridiculous that there has to be debates and legislation passed to allow all people to receive the same rights and privileges regardless of their marital gender composition.

You know, this would be a non issue if the silly conservative minded folks that object to same sex marriages would just stop have gay babies.

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citizen1 2 years, 1 month ago

The problem here is trying to legislate conflicting standards of behavior & morality. Gays demanding legal recognition & protection, which allows them to practice relationships & behaviors in which they believe. People who practice belief in religious tenants.

What are the gay folks afraid of? I am sure a solution can be worked out if willing folks are willing to work this out without imposing their will on each other.

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Katara 2 years, 1 month ago

I am curious as to how exactly she used a daycare business as an example.

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voevoda 2 years, 1 month ago

Very few religions require their members to refuse to engage in ordinary business dealings with persons who commit personal sins. Christianity isn't one of them. Of course, if passed, this ordinance would permit Mormons to refuse to hire persons who drink coffee. It would permit Quakers to refuse to hire persons who support the US military. It would permit Jehovah's Witnesses to refuse to hire anyone who is in favor of blood transfusions, or pay for health insurance that covers it. It would permit Christians and Muslims who regard usury as a sin to object to any business that charges interest. How can anyone in the State Legislature think that this is a good idea?

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Ray Parker 2 years, 1 month ago

The free exercise of religion means the freedom to discriminate against immoral behavior, to refuse to endorse, condone, participate in, or facilitate vile conduct. This applies to many areas not entirely prohibited by criminal law, such as fornication, adultery, gambling, and fortune telling.

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tange 2 years, 1 month ago

I suppose it's not surprising that those who subscribe to legal validation of morality would get behind a law which frees them from religion tenets altogether.

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kugrad 2 years, 1 month ago

Religion is what you personally practice - it is your own personal beliefs and behavior. Denying the rights of others is not part of your religious freedom. .

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hujiko 2 years, 1 month ago

Why all the hate, Christians?

Jesus is weeping for you.

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Glenn Reed 2 years, 1 month ago

I had a discussion with someone yesterday about churches and taxes. After discussing it, we both wanted to create a religion, therefore gaining tax-free status.

Heck, having the right to tell taxpaying people to go stuff themselves whenever I wanted to would be a nice bonus.

How do you go about creating a religion, gaining tax-free status, and getting the right to be a complete jerk to people completely undeserving of it?

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catfishturkeyhunter 2 years, 1 month ago

You know, gay people had all the rights they are complaining about not having before they came out of the closet.. What did they think people were gona say? Im not saying that to be mean, Im just saying. Keep that sort of thing and what you do in the sack with who you do it with to yourself and on a need to know basis. The same goes for straight people.. How hard is that? Quit wasting the courts and congress's time with stupid stuff

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RogueThrill 2 years, 1 month ago

Apparently, somewhere along the line, we decided the freedom to be religious meant the freedom to persecute others.

People get equal freedoms in public, then you get the right to stand out in public and say they suck. That's how it works. You don't get to DENY other people freedoms to PROMOTE your own.

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