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Kansas has seen some controversy the last few weeks.  Legislation that proposed to snuff out broadband to rural communities, to end no-fault divorce and this doozy: to specifically allow discrimination against gays & lesbians by private business AND government officials.

After some debate yesterday, the legislation passed and is now on it's way to becoming Kansas law.

A bill that would give public and private employees the right to refuse service based on their religious beliefs about marriage won initial approval in the Kansas House on Tuesday.

Republican supporters say the bill is designed to protect religious liberty. Opponents say it targets same-sex couples and sanctions discrimination by government employees.

The bill was drafted in response to federal court rulings that overturned same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma.

Rep. Charles Macheers, R-Shawnee, said on the House floor that his bill prevents discrimination.

“Discrimination is horrible. It’s hurtful … It has no place in civilized society, and that’s precisely why we’re moving this bill,” he said. “There have been times throughout history where people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs because they were unpopular. This bill provides a shield of protection for that.”

So, just for those of you lost by the reasoning:  This legislation specifically allows you to discriminate against gays & lesbians in order to protect people from being persecuted for their religious right to discriminate.   Got it?

And that's not it.   The bill goes so far as to change the handling of government services:

The bill covers private and public employees. Government agencies would still be required to provide services, but individual clerks could refuse to serve same-sex couples based on their religious beliefs on marriage.
Go to renew your license plates at the DMV, and they can't turn you away... but if your state employed counter person doesn't like gay people, he's perfectly free to not help you.

I sometimes wonder if these Tea Partiers remember what the Tea Party was about.   Taxation without representation; because they sure as heck are making sure that these people pay taxes but aren't in any way represented.  Maybe that just flies over there heads.

Very disappointing is that Paul Davis, Democratic candidate for governor has pretty well side stepped this issue.  He voted against it and made sure to 'triangulate' to the middle, talking about how this would harm the Kansas brand image.  

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, the likely Democratic challenger to Gov. Sam Brownback, did not address the bill on the House floor. In a written statement issued afterward, he made no mention of marriage or same-sex couples. Instead, he contended the Legislature should be tackling more pressing economic issues.

“Every day we spend on issues like this is one day less this Legislature and Governor has to tackle the real, growing crises at hand,” Davis said in the statement.

Republicans say the bill does not target gay people. The wording of the bill would allow someone with a “sincerely held” religious belief against heterosexual marriage to deny service to a straight couple, they say.

Rep. Mark Kahrs, R-Wichita, said the bill would protect a lesbian photographer who wanted to refuse to work for a Catholic wedding based on the church’s stance against same-sex marriage.

Macheers said the bill puts Kansas “on the right side of history.”

Those are valuable arguments, but he would do more for his base if he would comment about the basic injustice being done here.. and I think he could do it without flushing away the election.   Que Sera.    No candidate is perfect, and I will take anything over these looney tunes.

Updated  I updated because the initial vote count did not include the Democratic Leadership in the house when added, it made it 72-49

10:39 AM PT: Please note:  For those not getting the full story @ it is here also, since it's AP:

Originally posted to tmservo433 on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 09:19 AM PST.

Also republished by Kansas & Missouri Kossacks, LGBT Rights are Human Rights, Kossacks for Marriage Equality, and LGBT Kos Community.

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