US: Kansas bill would allow religious business owners to refuse service to same-sex couples
Politicians in the US state of Kansas have considered a bill which would pre-emptively allow those with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to discriminate against gay couples wishing to get married.
House Bill 2453, which would allow those with religious beliefs to refuse service to any couple, especially same-sex ones, has been brought forward on the understanding that Kansas may eventually introduce equal marriage legislation.
The bill’s supporters have argued adamantly that the bill only applies to weddings, and wedding celebrations, and businesses therein, such as florists, bakeries and other wedding-related companies.
Its opponents, however, have said that its wording could be applied much more widely to legitimise discrimination against gay couples.
HB2453 specifically says no individual, business or religious group with “sincerely held religious beliefs”, will be required to offer “any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges, provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits” which relate to any marriage or domestic partnership.
The bill was discussed in a House committee hearing on Tuesday.
Kansas is known as being the home to the adamantly homophobic Westboro Baptist Church. The church, based in Kansas City, among many other ridiculous things, last year took umbrage at a pink lemonade stand run by a 5-year-old in the name of an anti-bullying campaign, and told her she would “burn in hell”.
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