Topeka The Kansas House on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that supporters said was needed to protect religious beliefs, but opponents said legalized discrimination against gays.
The bill called the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act would provide a defense against legal action on a claim of discrimination. It was approved 91-33. The Senate would have to approve it before it would go to Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration. His administration has testified in support of the bill.
State Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, said the measure was needed to protect religious freedoms in an environment of changing court rulings.
Opponents said it was a direct attack on gays and the city of Lawrence ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
During debate Wednesday on the bill, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, asked Kinzer if under Kinzer's bill an apartment owner could cite his religious beliefs to fight a complaint if he refused to rent to a same-sex couple.
"That is generally correct," Kinzer said.
State Rep. Charlie Roth, R-Salina, said Kinzer's legislation was "homophobic" and that it will hurt Kansas' image.
Locally, state Reps. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence and Davis voted against the bill. State Reps. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, and TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City, voted for it.