Two days ago the Kansas House approved a sweeping bill that legalizes discrimination against LGBT people in virtually every aspect of life. Today GOP state Senate president Susan Wagle promised to narrow the bill, presumably to businesses in the wedding industry.
For starters, a provision that would allow government employees to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds is completely out. Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, was emphatically clear on that point. “Absolutely. I believe that when you hire police officers or a fireman that they have no choice in who they serve. They serve anyone who’s vulnerable, any age, any race, any sexual orientation,” Wagle said. When asked if this was also true for a government employee who issues dog licenses, Wagle responded simply. “Public service needs to remain public service for the entire public.” Wagle, who was joined by Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, and Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, also cited concerns from the business community as part of their hesitation to move forward with House Bill 2453 in its current form. She said the bill, as written, would hurt large and small businesses alike.A spokesman for Equality Kansas reacted to Wagle's statement: "The religious community needs to have their religious freedoms respected, but the gay community needs have our rights as citizens of the state of Kansas respected. We’re not going to support any bill that singles out gay or lesbian couples either directly or indirectly through legalese." Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Kansas Senate by 31-9.
RELATED: Today Andrew Sullivan posted a blistering reaction to the bill. An excerpt:
If you were devising a strategy to make the Republicans look like the Bull Connors of our time, you just stumbled across a winner. If you wanted a strategy to define gay couples as victims and fundamentalist Christians as oppressors, you’ve hit the jackpot. In a period when public opinion has shifted decisively in favor of gay equality and dignity, Kansas and the GOP have decided to go in precisely the opposite direction. The week that the first openly gay potential NFL player came out, the GOP approved a bill that would prevent him from eating in restaurants in the state, if he ever mentioned his intention to marry or just shack up with his boyfriend. Really, Republicans? That’s the party you want? As for the allegedly Christian nature of this legislation, let’s not mince words. This is the inversion of Christianity.