John M. Becker

Kansas Senate Backpedals on 'Right to Discriminate' Bill

Filed By John M. Becker | February 14, 2014 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: anti-discrimination law, backpedaling, Christianists, damage control, GOP, Kansas, privilege, religious exemption, Republican Party, special rights, theocracy

hit-the-brakes.jpgKansas's "Right to Discriminate" bill (HB 2453), which would allow people and businesses to reject LGBT customers based on their "sincerely held religious beliefs" and which sailed through the Kansas House on Wednesday, hit a major roadblock today when GOP Senate President Susan Wagle announced that she will not bring it to the floor in its current form.

The Wichita Eagle reports:

For starters, a provision that would allow government employees to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds is completely out. Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, was emphatically clear on that point.

"Absolutely. I believe that when you hire police officers or a fireman that they have no choice in who they serve. They serve anyone who's vulnerable, any age, any race, any sexual orientation," Wagle said. When asked if this was also true for a government employee who issues dog licenses, Wagle responded simply. "Public service needs to remain public service for the entire public."

Wagle, who was joined by Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, and Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, also cited concerns from the business community as part of their hesitation to move forward with House Bill 2453 in its current form. She said the bill, as written, would hurt large and small businesses alike.

The bill generated a huge online backlash across the country. On the home front, the more Kansans learned about the bill, the less they liked it:

Friday afternoon, House Republicans who voted for the bill attempted to do damage control. At an afternoon news conference House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stillwell, was asked if the bill could pass again. "Probably not," he said. He added that Republicans have been getting calls ever since the bill's 72-49 passage Wednesday. "It does change some people's minds," Merrick said...

Looks like the Kansas GOP may have counted on slipping this repugnant bill through under the radar. Nice try, kids -- we're watching.

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