Kansas advances bill to allow religious business owners to refuse service to same-sex couples
Politicians in the US state of Kansas on Tuesday advanced a bill which would allow religious business owners to discriminate against gay couples wishing to marry.
Lawmakers in the House passed HB 2453 with 72 votes to 42 on Tuesday. If it passes a final vote in the House, scheduled for Wednesday, then it will be sent to the Senate for consideration.
The bill would pre-emptively allow those with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to discriminate against gay couples wishing to get married.
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.
HB 2453 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.
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”.