This is awful, but I can't say it surprises me:
Denying services to same-sex couples may soon become legal in Kansas.More, from Slate's Mark Joseph Stern:
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.
The bill ... will now easily pass the Republican Senate and be signed into law by the Republican governor....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.
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.
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.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.
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.
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.