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Kansas legislators explain their votes on bill dealing with religious beliefs, gay rights

A national uproar has ensued over House approval of a bill that would provide legal protection for those who, because of religious beliefs, refuse to provide services to same-sex married couples.

The 72-49 vote on Wednesday that sent House Bill 2453 to the Senate was accompanied by several written explanations by many legislators on why they voted the way they did. Those are recorded in the House Journal.

Below is the roll call vote on HB 2435 and the written explanations of vote and who signed them.

HB 2453, AN ACT concerning religious freedoms with respect to marriage, was considered on final action.

On roll call, the vote was: Yeas 72; Nays 49; Present but not voting: 0; Absent or not voting: 3. Yeas: Anthimides, Boldra, Bradford, Brunk, Couture-Lovelady, Campbell, Carlson, Carpenter, Cassidy, Christmann, Claeys, Corbet, Crum, E. Davis, DeGraaf, Dove, Edmonds, Edwards, Esau, Estes, Ewy, Garber, Goico, Gonzalez, Grosserode, Hawkins, Hedke, Henry, Hibbard, Highland, Hildabrand, Hoffman, Houser, Howell, Huebert, Hutton, Jones, Kahrs, Kelley, Kelly, Kiegerl, Kinzer, Kleeb, Lunn, Macheers, Mast, McPherson, Meier, Meigs, Merrick, Moxley, O'Brien, Osterman, Pauls, Peck, Petty, Powell, Proehl, Read, Rhoades, Rothlisberg, Rubin, Ryckman Jr., Ryckman Sr., Schroeder, Schwab, Schwartz, Seiwert, Suellentrop, Sutton, Thompson, Vickrey.

Nays: Alcala, Alford, Ballard, Barker, Becker, Bollier, Bridges, Burroughs, Carlin, Carmichael, Clayton, Concannon, P. Davis, Dierks, Doll, Finch, Finney, Frownfelter, Gandhi, Henderson, Hill, Hineman, Houston, Jennings, Johnson, Kuether, Lane, Lusk, Lusker, Menghini, Perry, Phillips, Rooker, Ruiz, Sawyer, Sloan, Sloop, Swanson, Tietze, Todd, Trimmer, Victors, Ward, Waymaster, Weigel, Whipple, Wilson, Winn, Wolfe Moore. Present but not voting: None. Absent or not voting: Bruchman, Peterson, Thimesch. The bill passed, as amended.

EXPLANATIONS OF VOTE

Mr. Speaker: It is my deeply held sincere religious belief that the commandment to “Love one another” is contradicted by this legislation. This bill expressly permits discrimination against my neighbor in the name of religious freedom. I vote no on HB 2453. — Sydney Carlin.

Mr. Speaker: I strongly believe in preserving religious liberty. I also believe that between the constitutional amendment passed in 2005 and HB 2203 passed last year, we have accomplished most of the intent expressed in HB 2453. HB 2453 has created perceptions of promoting discrimination. This was quite evident as I listened to the discussions on the floor, and as I read the emails that I received yesterday. However, I firmly believe that HB 2453 does create a fertile ground for lawsuits. I do not think that prohibiting lawsuits as part of the bill is going to stop them. I vote no on HB 2453. — Shanti Gandhi.

Mr. Speaker: I vote no on HB 2453 because: 1. I believe it is unnecessary considering the constitutional amendment passed in 2005 and the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act passed in 2013; 2. The motive of the bill is a fear of a speculative federal appeals court opinion that may or may not find our constitutional amendment unconstitutional; 3. The bill would be personally hurtful to my friends when they are denied services available to everyone else based upon whom they love; 4. I believe the bill is much broader in scope than what was intended. —Tom Sloan, Don Hill, John E. Barker, Steven R. Becker.

Mr. Speaker: I vote no on HB 2453. My closely held religious belief is that God is love. I cannot vote yes for this bill if I am to heed the words of Christ when he said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it unto me.” — Don Hineman, Barbara Bollier, Tom Sawyer.

Mr. Speaker: This bill is not discriminatory against any group of people. It only ensures that individuals are not forced to participate in an event that is contrary to their religious beliefs. Questions arise for me on how this bill affects people receiving lawful government services they have the right to receive. I vote no on HB 2453. — James E. Toddd.

Mr. Speaker: I strongly support religious freedom, but this bill is not about religious freedom. In my opinion, this is about legalized discrimination, and I cannot vote in support of this. I vote no on HB 2453. —Patricia M. Sloop.

Mr. Speaker: I vote no on HB 2453. I support freedom of religion, but proponents of this bill concede it addresses issues which Kansans are not currently facing. Kansans are facing the consequences of 2011 education cuts. A study last fall shows only three states have cut education deeper. Adjusted for inflation, per pupil school funding is below 1992 levels. Schools are closing, class sizes are growing, parents are paying higher fees, and our economy is struggling. The next generation of leaders, innovators, and job creators is being molded today in Kansas classrooms. We must invest in them because strong schools are the foundation of a stronger economy. — Carolyn L. Bridges, Roderick Houston, Adam Lusker, Ed Trimmer.

Mr. Speaker: I support religious freedoms, however, I cannot support any legislation that condones or licenses discriminatory behavior against any person. I vote no on HB 2453. Gail Finney, Julie Menghini, Broderick Henderson, Tom Burroughs, Paul Davis.

Mr. Speaker: One of the founding principles of our country, inscribed in the First Amendment, is the right of the people to be led by their conscience and follow their own deeply held religious convictions without fear of penalty or reprisal. Because of that, I vote YES on HB 2453. — Connie O'Brien, Travis Couture-Lovelady, Willie Dove, Ronald Ryckman Sr., Brett Hildabrand, Jerry Lunn, Joe Edwards, Craig McPherson, Randy Garber, Richard Carlson, Leslie Osterman, Will Carpenter, Kevin Jones, Allan Rothlisberg, Joe Swiewert, Sharon Schwartz, Ken Corbet, Ron Highland, Amanda Grosserode.

Mr. Speaker: The Kansas Bill of Rights says, “The right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience shall never be infringed: ... Nor shall any control of or interference with the rights of conscience be permitted. ...” The bill's opponents have made false representations about new discrimination. States enacting same sex marriage – from New York to Hawaii – have also enacted specific protections for religious liberties as it relates to same-sex marriage, including Progressive governors like Andrew Cuomo and Martin O'Malley. Kansas is consistent with those states. It maintains the status quo. Nothing more, nothing less. I vote YES on HB 2453. — Charles Macheers, Keith Esau, Mario Goico, Jim Howell

Mr. Speaker: There are substantial legal conflicts surrounding a possible U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion striking down the Kansas marriage amendment. Because of that, it is imperative that we protect individuals from penalty if they choose to decline to participate in a marriage event that conflicts with their religious beliefs. I vote YES on HB 2453. — Kasha Kelley, Dennis Hedke, Kelly Miegs, Bud Estes, John Bradford, Kent Thompson, Reid Petty, Daniel Hawkins, Marvin Kleeb.

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Prayer list targets “dark spiritual areas” of Kansas, including Lawrence

Topeka — A prayer list put out by the Capitol Commission, which is dedicated to spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ, calls for praying for "dark spiritual areas" of Kansas, including Lawrence.

In a one-page list of Capitol Prayers being passed around the Statehouse recently, prayer is urged for a number of Kansas leaders, including Gov. Sam Brownback and his staff, and for those who are ill or facing adversity within the Legislature and state government.

The list also states under the heading Intercessor's Challenge: "Target prayer for dark spiritual areas of SE Kansas, Lawrence, KCKS, North Johnson County — ask God to restore the land."

Dave DePue, the Kansas pastor for Capitol Commission, said the prayer was to improve the economies in those areas.

"We just seem to be stalled in getting this economy turned around," DePue said, although he added that Lawrence seems to be doing well economically.

Asked about the term "dark spiritual area," he said, "I don't know whether that is worded right, because Lawrence isn't losing population."

The list also included a prayer for the judicial system and asking God "to provide wisdom for restructuring the Kansas selection process."

DePue is a full-time volunteer for Capitol Commission and is often seen around the Statehouse. He often prays with Brownback and legislators. He said he takes requests from legislators and others to put the prayer list together.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said he didn't think it was appropriate to refer "to certain areas of the state as dark spiritual areas."

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Separation of church and state group criticizes Brownback for promoting prayer event

Americans United for Separation of Church and State on Friday criticized Gov. Sam Brownback for promoting a fundamentalist Christian evangelical event.

“The governor is really overstepping his constitutional bounds," said Vickie Sandell Stangl, president of the Great Plains chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

"He was elected to serve as governor of our state, not our state pastor-in-chief.

“The people of Kansas do not need politicians telling us when, how or whether to pray. If anybody needs to repent, it’s Gov. Brownback. He needs to repent for violating the constitutional separation of church and state," Stangl said.

Stangl was criticizing Brownback for promoting a nationally simulcast prayer and worship event put on by ReignDown USA that will be held Saturday in MacLennan Park, which is adjacent to the governor's mansion, Cedar Crest.

In a video promoting the event, Brownback said: "Too often we have forgotten God," and he invites people to pray.

Here is a video that Brownback made. The end of the video says no state resources were used to make the video or in the ReignDown event.

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Brownback urging prayer on Saturday during ReignDown USA event

Gov. Sam Brownback says "too often we have forgotten God," and he is inviting people to pray on Saturday.

Brownback is asking people to participate in worship and pray at MacLennan Park in an event sponsored by ReignDown USA.

Here is a video that Brownback made. The end of the video says no state resources were used to make the video or in the ReignDown event.

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