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Kansas Senate Leader Says Bill Condoning Discrimination Against Gays Unlikely to Pass

A Kansas bill allowing people, groups, and businesses to discriminate against gay couples based on religious beliefs which passed the House yesterday in a 72-49 vote looks unlikely to gain passage in the state Senate, President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, indicated in an email on Thursday.

WagleThe Wichita Eagle reports on Wagle's email:

“After an initial review, I’ve grown concerned about the practical impact of the bill,” Wagle said in an e-mailed statement. The bill would allow public and private employees alike to refuse service based on religious views of marriage.

“A strong majority of my members support laws that define traditional marriage, protect religious institutions, and protect individuals from being forced to violate their personal moral values,” Wagle said. “However, my members also don’t condone discrimination.

“If we cannot find ample common ground to ease legitimate concerns, I believe a majority of my caucus will not support the bill."


Kansas House Advances Bill Allowing Religion-Based Discrimination Against Gays

KansasThe Kansas House has approved a bill allowing people, groups, and businesses to discriminate against gay couples based on religious beliefs, the AP reports:

The vote Tuesday was 72-42. The measure advanced even though critics suggested the bill would encourage widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The House plans to take final action on the bill Wednesday, and it's likely to pass.

The Wichita Eagle editorial board condemned the bill in an editorial:

The bill is written both so broadly and specifically – with especially troubling references to “counseling, adoption, foster care” and “employment benefits” – that it would sow confusion at best.

At worst, it would put Kansas on record as valuing some religious beliefs so highly as to justify intolerant and discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples – including those lawfully wed in other states and whose marriages are recognized by the federal government.

The bill directs governments and other nonreligious entities to promptly find another employee to provide the service or otherwise ensure it is provided “if it can be done without undue hardship to the employer.”


Kansas House Panel Advances Bill Allowing Religion-Based Discrimination Against Gays

The Kansas Federal and State Affairs Committee has advanced to the full House a bill that would allow religion-based discrimination against gay married couples, the AP reports:

KansasKansas law already protects employees from being sanctioned based on religious beliefs, but supporters of House Bill 2453 said more is necessary to protect religious freedom.

The bill says governmental entities cannot require individuals, businesses or religious groups to provide services, facilities, goods or employment benefits related to any marriage or domestic partnership. It also prohibits anti-discrimination lawsuits on such grounds.

Critics say the measure promotes discrimination against gays and lesbians and encourages government officials to ignore court rulings favoring gay marriage.


Proposed Kansas Bill Would Allow Religion-Based Discrimination Against Gays

MacheersKansas lawmakers are considering a bill from Kansas state Rep. Charles Macheers (pictured) that would protect businesses, groups, and individuals who don't want to serve gay married couples for religious reasons, the AP reports:

The legislator pushing the bill says it's designed to protect religious freedom, and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is receptive to the idea, though he hasn't yet studied the proposal enough to offer a formal endorsement.

However, critics say the measure promotes discrimination against gays and lesbians, and is so broadly written that it could apply to any couple, gay or straight, with a less-than-traditional union.

The Kansas House's Federal and State Affairs Committee scheduled a hearing for Tuesday morning on the measure. It's not clear how quickly the committee might act on it.

Said Brownback: "I think it's something we that need to protect, our people's religious liberties and religious rights."

According to the ACLU the bill's interpretation could be broad:

Companies offering benefits to legally married gay couples or domestic partners could have their policies blocked by individual employees. She said businesses could make decisions about benefits for straight couples based on whether an owner doesn't think a marriage is traditional enough.


Check Out the Insane Water Slide Coming to Kansas City: VIDEO

Verruckt

Schlitterbahn, a Kansas City, KS water park is going to welcome Verrückt, the world's tallest waterslide, this summer.

It's estimated to be 17 stories tall but will be officially measured later this year, and here's a virtual tour of the wet thriller. Not for the faint of heart.

Verrückt is German for "insane", of course.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

2_verruckt

Continue reading "Check Out the Insane Water Slide Coming to Kansas City: VIDEO" »


Gay-Inclusive Human Trafficking Anti-Discrimination Regulations Criticized By Kansas Lawmakers

A sweeping new anti-trafficking law in Kansas is being criticized by some state lawmakers for what is seen as the problematic inclusion of sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination statutes.  

Darcie Smith, Kansas Department of Health and Environment director for child placing and residential programming appeared before a joint committee at the state capitol on Tuesday to answer concerns regarding the law’s regulations and implementation. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports:

Jan PaulsAfter rattling off a series of nondiscrimination categories for admission to the secure facilities that included gender and race, Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson (pictured right), asked Smith why sexual orientation was also included.

 “I wasn’t sure what your origin was on listing sexual preference," Pauls said. "Gender covers a lot of the sexual discrimination, potentially. I just wasn’t sure why the sexual preference was added.”

Smith said it was a safeguard to ensure homosexual victims get helped.

In a bit of illogical mental gymnastics, Pauls said that while she didn’t believe any LGBT human trafficking victims would be denied access to a safe house on that basis, she claimed that including it in the legal nondiscrimination regulations could pose problems for religious institutions providing help that oppose homosexual activity.

Pauls, a lawyer, noted that state statutes don’t include sexual orientation among attributes for which Kansans are protected from discrimination.

“Once you use the term 'discrimination' we usually follow our statutes,” Pauls said.

Pauls and other state representatives proposed that the language regarding “sexual preference” should be removed from the nondiscrimination provisions. Rep. Mark Kahrs said he concurred with Pauls' recommendation and suggested that KDHE add "ancestry" in place of sexual preference. 

State lawmakers on the other side of the issue, however, expressed concern that removing “sexual preference” from the statutes would leave LGBT human trafficking victims vulnerable and excluded from guarantees of basic services. 

 ...Sen. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan, said during a break in the hearing he thought the department was smart to include sexual orientation because human trafficking often relates directly to sexual activity and some of the victims will be homosexuals.

"If you want to help people who are involved in human trafficking, you don't want to leave out that five percent or 10 percent," Hawk said.

The Huffington Post reports that Pauls has a long history as a rabidly anti-gay lawmaker. She authored the state's ban on gay marriage that was approved by voters in 2005. In 2011, Pauls was the leader of an effort to keep the state's sodomy ban on the books and pushed to not expand the state's civil rights laws to include sexual orientation. 


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