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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Opposing sides clash in debate over ‘religion freedoms’ bill

January 28, 2014

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— Supporters of a "religious freedoms" bill said Tuesday it would protect religious beliefs, but opponents said the measure would allow widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Lori Wagner, of Lawrence, said she and her wife "will become the victims of real and legally sanctioned discrimination," if House Bill 2453 becomes law. Wagner was married in 2012 in Iowa, which recognizes same-sex marriages.

The bill, heard in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, says no individual, business or religious group with sincerely held religious beliefs can be required by any government agency to provide services, facilities, goods, employment or employment benefits for a same-sex marriage or domestic partnership.

Supporters of the bill said the bill was needed to provide legal protection for wedding-related businesses, such as florists and photographers, who refuse to work at same-sex weddings or ceremonies because they held religious beliefs that same-sex marriage was wrong.

Robert Noland, with the Kansas Family Policy Council, said Kansans shouldn't be compelled to do something their religion said they shouldn't do.

Michael Shuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, said, "Do we really believe mom and pop businesses should be shut down because they won't compromise their sincere religious beliefs?"

But opponents of the bill said the proposal was much broader than applying only to wedding-related situations.

State Rep. Emily Perry, D-Mission, questioned whether under the bill a police officer could cite religious reasons and refuse to render aid during a domestic disturbance that involved a same-sex couple

Related document

House Bill 2453 ( .PDF )

Micheline Burger, with the Mainstream Coalition, said that the bill would allow a waiter to refuse to serve a same-sex couple.

"This allows anyone in a private business or governmental entity, if you have religious beliefs that are sincerely held, to discriminate against anyone," Burger said.

She said the arguments for the bill were the same as those who in the past opposed marriages of blacks and whites or Jews and Catholics.

State Rep. Charles Macheers, R-Overland Park, introduced the bill, saying it would "protect religious freedoms on both sides of the marriage debate." But Tom Witt, executive director of Kansas Equality, said the bill was a pre-emptive strike to "maintain discrimination" against gays and lesbians if Kansas' ban on same-sex marriage is ruled unconstitutional as similar bans have been struck down in Oklahoma and Utah.

A fiscal note on the bill said it would cost $275,000 through July 2015 to defend legal challenges that would arise from the measure. It also said the court system would have trouble with a provision in the bill that says courts must decide within 60 days whether the claimed protection applies.

Comments

Phillip Chappuie 10 months, 3 weeks ago

To a reasonable person this is not much of a question. This bill is nothing more than legal protection for bigots wishing to discriminate for whatever cause. Mary Picher-Cook should really examine what her role is as a legislator. There are much more important things to deal with and leave the extremist out of it. Fix the budget first. Fund the schools and the social services. Work on economic incentives. Leave the social engineering out of the formula.

Steve Bunch 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Members of Aryan Nations have sincerely held religious beliefs about blacks and Jews. I guess if they have a mom and pop business, they too can reserve the right not to serve those folks.

Mike Silverman 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I liked things better when "religious freedom" meant something else other then a "license to be a bigot"

Fred Mertz 10 months, 3 weeks ago

The government must not discriminate but while individuals should be able to choose to with whom they associate and do business.

Every poster above discriminates. I doubt any of them would freely associate with racist, homophobes and so on. But you see that is good discrimination - right? And in my opinion it is, but it is not my place nor the governments to tell people how to believe and with whom they must associate and do business.

Ron Holzwarth 10 months, 3 weeks ago

"it is not my place nor the governments to tell people how to believe and with whom they must associate and do business."

Apparently you advocate the return of segregated water fountains and rest rooms for whites and colored people, and the return of "whites only" restaurants and other places of business.

Fred Mertz 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Ron don't try to put words in my mouth. I do not advocate for segregation and white only restaurants. Both are wrong, but that doesn't mean the government should force people to believe the way I do.

I don't advocate it nor would I support a business that discriminated on race gender or sexual orientation but I believe it is their decision on how to run their business and not governments.

No where in the Constitution does the government have the authority to prevent individuals from discriminating. Maybe I am wrong so show me where the government is granted this power.

Ron Holzwarth 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I did not put words in your mouth, I quoted you word for word.
This is a very brief excerpt from: The Civil Rights Act of 1964
From:
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/federal-antidiscrimination-laws-29451.html

  1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e and following) prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin (including membership in a Native American tribe). It also prohibits employers from retaliating against an applicant or employee who asserts his or her rights under the law.

Beth Ennis 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm not sure how the posters above you are discriminating. If you own a business, you should not, and right now, cannot discriminate against someone because of things like race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Trust me, this will not be just for sexual orientation. There are a lot of things that have changed over the years that people believed were religion based...ie: women working and women voting, inter-racial marriages, etc. So, if a man believes (using his religion) that a woman belongs in the home, "barefoot and pregnant", then he can discriminate against any women that apply for jobs in his company and only hire men? Is that ok too? Our constitution gives us freedom of religion, which means we are not suppose to base any laws on any religion. Our forefathers were persecuted in Europe because of their religious beliefs and they did not want that happening over here. Individuals as themselves can do what they want. (if someone doesn't want to go to a place where they might run in to someone whose choices or lifestyle they don't agree with for instance) However, if they want to be in business for themselves in any way shape or form (landlords, business owner, etc) then they no longer have the right to discriminate.

Chris Golledge 10 months, 3 weeks ago

"freely associate" Who said anything about free associations? The law is about doing business, some of which, like being able to buy food or have a place to live, directly impact a person's life and liberty.

Fred Mertz 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Businesses have no obligation to provide for an individuals life and liberty.

Chris Golledge 10 months, 3 weeks ago

And the state has no authority to prevent private citizens from infringing those rights?

Richard Heckler 10 months, 3 weeks ago

In general it appears this bill promotes discrimination in an astronomical fashion. I believe if my memory serves me well discrimination is against the law. Which makes all legislators who vote for this law breakers. Should Sam Brownback sign such he too will be a law breaker.

"Robert Noland, with the Kansas Family Policy Council, said Kansans shouldn't be compelled to do something their religion said they shouldn't do."

Who should make that interpretation? Which religion is being violated?

Mr Noland do you believe you are the spokesperson for all religions? Don't flatter yourself.

Mr Noland I say you should mind your own business.

The Sam ALEC Brownback personal agenda is devastating to democracy,the Bill of Rights, Freedom of Religion and could be interpreted as a violation of Human Rights.

Ron Holzwarth 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Luke Chapter 6, verses 37, 38:
"Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

Chris Golledge 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Michael Shuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, said, "Do we really believe mom and pop businesses should be shut down because they won't compromise their sincere religious beliefs?"

Who said anything about shutting down a business? The federal law requires that they do business with everyone, without discrimination. Why does Shuttloffel think that doing business is bad for business?

Chris Golledge 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Honestly, a business can have more customers or less customers, which is better?

Brett McCabe 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Just when you think that this state couldn't make itself more embarrassing....

Stuart Evans 10 months, 3 weeks ago

So we can just make up an invisible friend, and then pretend that it doesn't like certain groups of people, and go around spouting ignorance and hatred? "no, sorry, my ridiculous ideology, won't allow me to hire you, because I think what you do is icky" America... dumber by the day.

Thomas Bryce 10 months, 3 weeks ago

This Bill infringes on my Wholehearted Religious belief that discrimination is a sin in any form. If this bill is passed, my Religious beliefs are being violated! The State is not allowed to discriminate FOR ANY Reason. They will be violating My Religious Freedom by doing so, not to mention opening up a Constitutional challenge from the Courts. If the Kansas Legislature Votes for discrimination, None of them deserve to retain the office they were elected to. I will vote accordingly as I hope ALL Kansans will. The People need to set the Direction of our State. Not a Bunch of Self-serving, Cafeteria Constitutionalists.

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