Kansas bill allowing businesses to deny gay wedding services stalls

Feb. 15, 2014 at 2:05 AM   |   0 comments

TOPEKA, Kan., Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A bill critics say would allow open discrimination against homosexuals easily passed the Kansas House but now appears doomed in the Senate.

Senate President Susan Wagle, in a statement late Thursday, said a majority of the Republicans in the upper house will not vote for the bill, the Kansas City (Mo.) Star reported. The Democratic minority is solidly against it.

"A strong majority of my members support laws that define traditional marriage, protect religious institutions and protect individuals from being forced to violate their personal moral values," Wagle said.

"However, my members also don't condone discrimination."

The House approved the bill 72-49 Wednesday, with three Democrats joining the Republican majority in the vote, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Supporters say the measure would protect religious liberty by allowing business owners who believe same-sex marriage is a sin to refuse to provide services in the event a federal court overturns the ban on gay marriage in the Kansas Constitution.

"Our intent is purely centered on preserving the ability to practice religious beliefs according to time-honored and divinely inspired instruction," Robert Noland, executive director of the Kansas Family Policy Council, said.

But the bill would also bar those who believe they have been victims of anti-homosexual discrimination from suing.

Many ministers in the state oppose the bill and say it has nothing to do with religious freedom. Kate McGee of Presbyterian Trinity Church in Topeka, Aaron Roberts of Colonial Church in Prairie Village and Chad Herring of John Knox Kirk in Kansas City, Mo., joined forces Friday to lobby against it.

McGee said religious beliefs should not be codified in Kansas law.

"If businesses rejected sinners, they would have no customers," McGee said. "They themselves wouldn't be able to shop in their own businesses. Where does it stop?"

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