Gay Issues

Kansas Bill Lets Government Employees Refuse Services To Same-Sex Couples

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

The Kansas House of Representatives is moving forward with a bill that allows government employees the right to refuse service to same-sex couples based on their religious beliefs.

House Bill 2453 bans anti-discrimination lawsuits on the grounds that someone refuses to provide services, facilities, goods or employment to same-sex couples who are married or have a domestic partnership.

Drafted in response to federal court rulings overturning same-sex marriage bans in other states, the bill was passed at a meeting of the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs on Thursday. It will head to the floor of the House for a vote in the near future, the Wichita Eagle reported.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback says he hasn’t read the bill but calls himself a “strong proponent and supporter for religious liberty.”

“Religious liberty issues are ones that I’ve been around for a long time. … I’ve fought for religious liberty in many countries and with many different faiths,” he said. “It’s basic in the Bill of Rights.”

Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, R-Palco, says those who believe the bill discriminates against gays are distracting voters from the real issue, which he claims is religious liberty.

“He’s incorrect,” Tom Witt, spokesman for Equality Kansas, said of Couture-Lovelady. “The distraction is making this about wedding cakes. It’s not about wedding cakes.”

“It’s about telling government employees they don’t have to do their jobs. They can pretend legal marriages don’t exist,” Witt added.

Sources: Wichita Eagle, Kansas City Star