Bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity probably dead for session
Topeka ? A bill that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is probably dead for the 2014 legislative session.
“It’s late in the session, and I don’t have any intention of working the bill at this time,” House Federal and State Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, said Friday.
The decision probably concludes for this year legislative wrangling between those opposed to same-sex marriage and those supporting gay rights.
Last month, the national spotlight fell on the Kansas Legislature after the House approved a so-called “religious freedom” bill.
Supporters of the bill said it would have provided legal protection for those who oppose same-sex marriage based on religious reasons.
But gay rights supporters said the bill would have opened the door to widespread discrimination.
Leading business organizations weighed in against the bill and similar measures ran into an avalanche of criticism across the nation.
In Kansas, Senate leaders killed the bill.
Gay rights supporters said any effort to revive a religious freedom bill should also take steps to make sure gays aren’t discriminated against.
Earlier this week, state Rep. Louis Ruiz, D-Kansas City, introduced House Bill 2761, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Kansas Act Against Discrimination. The act prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, employment and housing based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin and ancestry.
That’s the bill that Brunk said he will not have a hearing on.
Tom Witt, director of the state’s leading gay rights group Kansas Equality, said the effort will probably resume next year.
“We certainly look forward to having a hearing next year, particularly if there is going to be any more discussion on religious freedom. The two are inextricably linked at this point and we shouldn’t move forward with one without the other,” he said.