Archive for Friday, February 14, 2014

Republican leaders promise rewrite of bill dealing with religious freedom and same-sex marriage

February 14, 2014


— Republican legislative leaders on Friday sought to distance themselves from a House-approved bill that would have allowed people to cite religious beliefs in denying services to same-sex couples.

House Bill 2453 was approved 72-49 on Wednesday, prompting strong reaction around the country.

But on Thursday Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, essentially killed the measure, saying the bill was much broader than supporters had claimed and it would have harmed businesses.

AT&T; and other companies announced their opposition to the bill.

"This legislation is impossible to implement," said AT&T; Kansas President Steve Hahn. "The bill promotes discriminatory behavior by businesses against their customers; and it interferes with AT&T;'s management of our employees," he said.

In Lawrence, David Greenbaum, the owner of DoctorDave Computer Repair, on Friday decided to shut down for one day in protest of the bill.

"Denying customers service is bad for business and bad for the Kansas economy. Our Legislature should be encouraging companies to do business in and with Kansans," Greenbaum said.

He said denying service would also show customers what it feels like to be turned away.

A coalition of large and small businesses, including KCP&L; and the Wichita Independent Business Association, also voiced opposition.

"This bill is discriminatory and also unworkable," said Chuck Caisley, vice president of marketing and public affairs for KCP&L.;

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said he voted for the measure believing it was a narrow protection of religious freedoms in the face of federal court decisions in states around the country striking down same-sex marriage bans similar to the one in the Kansas Constitution.

"I didn't see all the bogeymen in it that everyone else has seen," Merrick said.

But Merrick said since the vote he has seen the bill can be interpreted in many ways.

He, Wagle and other GOP leaders said the Legislature would continue working on a measure to protect religious freedoms but not in a way that discriminated against gays and lesbians.

Supporters of HB 2453 said it would protect from lawsuits and government action individuals who refuse to provide services to same-sex couples because they believe homosexuality is morally wrong.

They said these peoples’ religious rights are being trampled by recent court decisions striking down other states’ bans on same-sex marriages.

But gay-rights advocates said the bill would have allowed widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians that would be equivalent to the days when blacks or inter-racial couples were denied equal treatment.

They said that under the bill same-sex couples could be denied being served in restaurants or that police could decide not to assist a same-sex married couple in distress.

The bill said that a governmental entity could not require an individual or religious entity to treat a marriage as valid if doing so would be contrary to sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity.

Wagle said one of her concerns was that the bill would have allowed a police officer or firefighter to refuse assistance. That needs to change in any potential legislation, she said. "Public service needs to remain public service for the entire public," she said.

Wagle also said small businesses would have been harmed because an employee could refuse to serve someone and the owner would be forced to find someone else to do the job.

She used the example of a baker she has used for weddings of her daughters. "If this bill were to become law and she chose not to serve a same-sex couple, this law would require her to find someone else to provide that service. She has no other employees," Wagle said.


Clark Coan 3 years, 11 months ago

It looks like everyone in Topeka has the Fred Phelps virus. The bill as currently written is clearly unconstitutional and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Maybe if they changed it to only apply to weddings and marriages it would past muster but that's about it.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

If people in Kansas do not know by what their state GOP represents they never will. Which begs the question why vote GOP ever again. The majority of the GOP is controlled by ALEC.

The very few actual GOP that ALEC has yet to replace could suffer at the voting booths if Kansas wised up and quit voting GOP blindly.

Frankly ALEC does not support the GOP,Democrats or Women and the state of Kansas CANNOT afford ALEC.

John Birch Society Celebrates Koch Family For Their Role In Founding The Hate Group

United States of ALEC

ALEC – The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in State Legislatures

ALEX EXPOSED – The Koch Connection

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

The Opposite of ALEC is People For The American Way = Gov't By The People YES! Issues -

Phillip Chappuie 3 years, 11 months ago

72 House members thought it was a good idea at the time. Apparently not. Do those people actually read or think before they vote? When big business chimed in they all just cowered off to the corner to let Merrick and Wiggle Wagle sort it out.

Greg Cooper 3 years, 11 months ago

Yes, thay can read very well, as long as it is headed ALEC or AFP. The other thing they can read is a bank statement showing deposits from their sugar daddies who tell them what to do and how to think.

Reading for content, with comprehension of future ramifications? No. Reading missives from constituents? No.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

There is no rewriting of this ignorant homophobic legislation. It goes in the trash.

Remember this is the same party and leadership that consistently supports tax cuts for the Kansas 1% and votes against public education.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

Hate runs deep…

John Birch Society Celebrates Koch Family For Their Role In Founding The Hate Group

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 11 months ago

Don't rewrite the bill just write your resignation.

Beator 3 years, 11 months ago

Nancy Pelosi says, why would anyone get married? Except, maybe for the children.

so there is a difference...there is "marriage generally", a man and a women. And then there is gay-marriage. Which is not "marriage generally".

Complex critical thinking at its finest.

Steve King 3 years, 11 months ago

So what happend is they didn't expect the backlash that they got. They thought they could get away with it. I guarntee if it hadn't been so loud, so National, the Senate would have passed it. They know the Courts are going to overturn the state ban. This was a cover as it's just a matter of time and happening all over the country.

The best to come out of this is it will finally show the non-believers just how wrong this current batch of lawmakers are and will help us to vote them out. Especially Merrick. This is the guy who came up with two different excuses not to allow the Honorable Judge Nuss to speak in the Chambers. He got outed on his first lame excuse then quickly came up with another. You trust this guy? And then Wiggle Wagle?

I look for at least 72 new faces in the House next year. They showed very clearly they are not that bright and just do as they are told.

Clark Coan 3 years, 11 months ago

For a variety of reasons, incumbents almost always are re-elected by voters, so I don't expect much turnover.

As far as the US House goes, political analysts believe that the Republicans will actually gain seats this fall and be able to cause even more trouble for America.

Political analysts also expect Brownback to be re-elected, though maybe by a close margin. Notice how he is keeping quiet about controversial topics this legislative session compared to 2013? He doesn't want to alienate any more moderate and middle of the road Republicans.

Steve King 3 years, 11 months ago

Then I'll vote with my feet. This state is going backwards. Colorado looks better and better. Low taxes, nothing on the first $25k of retirement. Gorgeous landscape. Job growth. Heck Nebraska has better job growth than we do.

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