Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Justice Department recently announced that the federal government will defend its recognition of same-sex marriage benefits, despite the practice being illegal in 34 states. According to CNN, the government will now recognize bankruptcies, prison visits and survivor benefits even for same-sex couples who have moved from a state in which their marriage was legalized to one that does not recognize their union.
Despite this significant step forward for homosexual individuals and gay rights activists, Kansas state legislature has introduced a bill that would allow individuals or businesses to refuse same-sex couples goods or services based on religious grounds.
According to the Wichita Eagle, the bill differs from traditional laws banning same-sex marriage because it extends into private businesses as well as government operations. If the bill is passed, businesses could legally discriminate against same sex couples, using religious ideals as justification.
According to Raw Story, the bill claims that “no individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity” to “provide any services, accomodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges” if “it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender.” The bill also claims individuals would not have to “treat any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement as valid.”
The bill, House Bill 2453, is sponsored by State Rep. Charles Macheers, R-Shawnee. It is currently headed for a vote on the House floor.
Despite major steps forward in the civil rights movement for same-sex couples, there are inevitable drawbacks. The executive office has admitted its support for gay marriage, and the Attorney General’s dedication to protecting individuals’ rights across state lines signifies that public attitude is shifting regarding civil unions and gay marriages. Still, the introduction of legislation such as House Bill 2453 demonstrates that many throughout the country are still uncomfortable with the notion of same-sex couples, and those individuals are willing to unjustly block the rights of others.