Thursday, February 13, 2014


This is awful, but I can't say it surprises me:
Denying services to same-sex couples may soon become legal in Kansas.

House Bill 2453 explicitly protects religious individuals, groups and businesses that refuse services to same-sex couples, particularly those looking to tie the knot.

It passed the state's Republican-dominated House on Wednesday with a vote of 72-49, and has gone to the Senate for a vote.
More, from Slate's Mark Joseph Stern:
The bill ... will now easily pass the Republican Senate and be signed into law by the Republican governor....

When passed, the new law will allow any individual, group, or private business to refuse to serve gay couples if "it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs." Private employers can continue to fire gay employees on account of their sexuality. Stores may deny gay couples goods and services because they are gay. Hotels can eject gay couples or deny them entry in the first place. Businesses that provide public accommodations -- movie theaters, restaurants -- can turn away gay couples at the door. And if a gay couple sues for discrimination, they won't just lose; they’ll be forced to pay their opponent's attorney's fees.

... Any government employee is given explicit permission to discriminate against gay couples.... If a gay couple calls the police, an officer may refuse to help them if interacting with a gay couple violates his religious principles. State hospitals can turn away gay couples at the door and deny them treatment with impunity. Gay couples can be banned from public parks, public pools, anything that operates under the aegis of the Kansas state government.
Gay marriage has been winning in state after state, but I've never believed the happy talk that even the reddest states are going to just shrug and accept coast-to-coast legalization. The right never gives up that easily. You'll say that Republicans don't want to fight this battle anymore, because they know it's anathema to the younger voters their party will need in the future. That may be true for D.C.-based Republicans, but the states are different -- and besides, we know from watching the immigration fight that Republicans aren't afraid to maintain grudges that hurt the party in the long run.

If this passes in Kansas, what keeps it from passing in Texas or Louisiana or North Carolina? Would pressure from business interests be enough? Because otherwise, I don't see what keeps the red states from trying out-wingnut one another this way.


UPDATE: Apparently there are limits to Republican resentment.
A Kansas bill shielding anyone refusing to provide service to same-sex couples on religious grounds appears to be in serious jeopardy.

Senate President Susan Wagle took the unusual step Thursday night of issuing a statement saying the bill ... didn't have the support of a majority of Republicans in her chamber.
Backers say they were trying to give cake bakers and photographers and the like from facing any consequence if they refuse to provide services connected to a gay marriage ceremony or celebration. So the bill will presumably be narrowed -- let's see how much. (What about public officials who refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses?) And then it'll pass.

I've been torn on the wedding cake question -- if we compel bakers and photographers and so on to provide services to gay couples if asked, are we relying on a principle that would require printers to make signs for a neo-Nazi rally if asked? I don't know where the line should be drawn. Let's see where Kansas ultimately draws the line.


Ed Crotty said...

Doesn't the 14th amendment equal protection clause ensure this is unconstitutional??

Aunt Snow said...


marieburns said...

This week, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II. a Bush I appointee, ruled that Kentucky’s law against recognizing same-sex marriages from other states violates the equal protection clause, just as Ed Crotty suggests. Heyburn's reasoning is pretty straightforward & should apply in any so-called "religious objection" laws or practices: "... religious beliefs ... are vital to the fabric of society ... [but] assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons.”

Zandar said...

These guys are willing to see this go through the federal court system for 4-5 years because they figure by the time this gets to SCOTUS, a Republican president in 2018 will have replaced Ginsburg with another Alito, and they'll win. And even if that doesn't happen, all it takes is Anthony Kennedy deciding that religious freedom is more important than who you love.

That will motivate many, many such state bills enshrining bigotry into law and saying "We're ending discrimination by protecting the religious beliefs of Christians."

It's a pretty good bet, and you'll see more and more Republicans taking these odds. makes it more likely there will be a sweeping 5-4 SCOTUS ruling in their favor because they'll just have to act "for the good of the nation".

Danp said...

Question for Kansas: Is it enough to firmly believe that all Republicans are closeted gays? Or is the argument that God endowed true Christians with accurate gaydar?

Mustang Bobby said...

So I wonder what would happen if I owned a business in Kansas and some Tea Partier shows up wearing a "Don't Tread On Me" t-shirt; can I refuse him service because he violates my sincerely held Quaker beliefs?

Victor said...

Und Kansas, how vill you know zat zee 2 people of zee same sex who are togezer, are homosexuals, and not just buddies or gal-pals?

Vill you be issuing "Pink Triangles" to all zee people who you consider to be gay?

And, according to Jonah, and it's now taken as gospel by Christian Conservatives, that it's the Liberals who are Fascists!

This is beyond dangerous.
And this will get even uglier.

This form of religious Fascism has no place in America.

Now it's the Liberals turn to say, "America - love it, or leave it!"

Boudica said...

That was an argument from one of the legislators. If a gay shop owner wanted to deny a Catholic couple service based on the Catholic church's attitude towards gays, she could.

Philo Vaihinger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The New York Crank said...

My religion is Progressivism, so I assume I'll be able to refuse ambulance service, medical care, hotel entry and service of a hamburger to Republicans and citizens of Kansas.

I can hardly wait!

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank

Julia said...

The good news is even the people who initially proposed this blazing sack of stink are fleeing its stench.

The (R) who introduced it says he didn't read it, he got it from another (R) who said he is a very busy man, he just pointed it out to R1 and forgot about it. I guess it is just a matter of time before they claim sneaky Democrats gave them the bill to make them look dumb.

Another brilliant bit of statergery from the Republican party.

RoadScholar said...

The answer is yes, a printer would have to print fliers for the KKK. Public accommodation includes people you don't agree with AS LONG AS they obey the rules for your business. If the KKK guy is loud and abusive, or bounces a check, you can refuse him service, just as you would anyone else who did the same thing.