Friday, February 14, 2014

In Which My Faith In Kansas Plummetts

House Bill 2453 easily passed the Kansas House of Representatives on Wednesday. The bill claims that it protects religious freedoms. Hey, that's a good thing. It's time we get some reassurance that your religion is yours and if you don't bother me with yours, I won't bother you with mine.

But that's not what this bill does. According to the bill as written:
No individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender: Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement
Essentially what the bill does is allow businesses to refuse goods, services, accommodations and amenities to gay people. The bill is even written so that essentially a police officer or fire fighter could refuse to help a gay person based on their religious beliefs. According to the legislators, this bill was written to make sure that if the courts strike down the state's same sex marriage ban, they are still discriminated against and find it difficult to get married in the state of Kansas. So what the legislators admitted was that they are losing this battle but want to continue to try to win the war. Or maybe it's losing the war but wanting to try to win the battle.

Kansans that I follow on Twitter were adamantly against this bill as most people should be because why would you want to discriminate and you would be losing out on money because last I knew, money used by gay people was the same as money used by everybody else. As for our legislators, they know this bill is illegal, unconstitutional and will be challenged in court because they already have a number for how much it will cost to defend it. $250,000. The state refuses to fund education, hasn't created one decent job bill and cuts taxes for the wealthy resulting in an estimated 700 million dollar budget deficit but we have the money to find bills we already know are illegal? I know Governor Brownback said Kansas would become an experiment but an experiment in what? Bad lawmaking? Most court cases lost?

Now I understand that these old white men who run our state may think gay people are icky and that they are just following what the Bible says but our constitution says that there is freedom of religion. And that freedom goes both ways. It keeps your religion away from me and my religion away from you. Imagine if, by law, you had to listen those missionaries who come to your door to bore you about Jesus Christ. It's freedom of religion that allows us to say "Please stop" and close the door. What would happen if the federal government made discrimination of sexual orientation illegal like with race, color, creed, gender? Would Kansas draft a bill saying the federal government has no jurisdiction? Why not? They've done it before.

As of now, Senate president Susan Wagel has said that she believes the bill to be discriminatory and will not pass the senate as is. Whether or not she truly believes this or Governor Brownback told her to squelch this negative press that is going national is unknown but the Kansas legislature has done this before. They draft a terrible, controversial bill, the state and even the country get in an uproar so the bill dies either in the senate or at the governor's desk and, no joke, our politicians raise themselves as heroes for stopping the upopular thing they started in the first place.

The real problem I have with all of this is that I am a huge Kansas booster. I've written about Kansas, researched Kansas, explored Kansas and defended Kansas for most of my life. It's becoming harder and harder to boost and defend my state when it constantly does terrible things like this. When Sam Brownback became governor he made us believe that his administration would make the rest of the country look up and take notice. He was right but they are looking at us for all of the wrong reasons.

Until next time, I remain...
~Brian

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