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Segregation Coming For All Gay People In Kansas

by David Badash on February 13, 2014

in News

Post image for Segregation Coming For All Gay People In Kansas

Lawmakers in the Kansas House of Representatives have just passed a bill that allows any person or religious institution to refuse service to same-sex couples. The vote on HB 2453 was a whopping 72-49. The Kansas Senate, which has a strong Republican majority, will almost certainly pass the bill, and Kansas’ Republican and virulently homophobic governor, Sam Brownback, will not only sign it, but likely dance for joy when he does.

How big a deal is this?

In short, the bill allows anyone to refuse to provide service to any gay person or same-sex couple.

UPDTE: Tennessee GOP Pushing Orwellian Gay Segregation Bill

That “anyone” includes your doctor, a police woman, the fire department, the clerk at the DMV, a grocery store clerk, your local barber or hairdresser, your doorman, the person who comes to check your electric meter, a gas station attendant, your friendly neighborhood banker, stock broker, insurance salesperson, newspaper delivery person, cable repair man, garbage collector, heck — even your boss or co-worker.

The bill (PDF) states that “if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity…no individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to…[p]rovide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement; solemnize any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement; or treat any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement as valid.” [Note: legal formatting removed for clarity]

So, for example, let’s say a married same-sex couple from California — let’s name them Bob and Jim — are driving to Nebraska, and they take a route through Kansas. Let’s say they stop overnight in a hotel. Let’s even say they’re good planners and made a reservation online a few days before.

It’s late in our hypothetical example, and Bob and Jim pull into the Topeka Travelin’ Motel (which, as far as we know, does not actuality exist.) They park and grab their luggage and walk into the front door. Jim goes up to the clerk and says he has a reservation. The clerk, let’s call him John, says he can’t find it. Jim says, “Honey, is the reservation under your last name or mine?”


John, perhaps a Southern Baptist, feels offended. He remembers that his lawmakers just passed a bill saying he doesn’t have to serve gay people or same-sex couples.

“You folks are a couple? We don’t like your kind here and you can’t stay in this motel.”

If Bob and Jim were Roberta and James, John could be sued. But in Kansas, John is an upstanding citizen exercising his religious right to be a bigot. he can’t be sued, and if Bob and Jim try, John can force them to pay his legal fees.

(By the way, yesterday The New Civil Rights Movement reported on a similar, albeit not quite as far-reaching, bill in Idaho.)

Slate calls the legislation “an abomination… designed to bring anti-gay segregation—under the guise of ‘religious liberty’—to the already deep-red state.”

The Kansas City Star reports that “Rep. Charles Macheers, R-Shawnee, said on the House floor that his bill prevents discrimination.”

“Discrimination is horrible. It’s hurtful … It has no place in civilized society, and that’s precisely why we’re moving this bill,” he said. “There have been times throughout history where people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs because they were unpopular. This bill provides a shield of protection for that.”

More like a shield of protection to actively hate gay people and spur a mass exodus from the Sunflower State.

Seriously, why would anyone not move out of Kansas right now?

Rep. Macheers is on Twitter and Facebook.

Image via the National Organization For Marriage on Facebook

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mjsimmons February 13, 2014 at 1:06 pm

This bill if it should get passed will hit the Supreme Court; with any luck it will be turned. Granted a business already has the right to refuse service to anyone. Usually reserved for when a customer is being offensive, rude or other such thing. Not based on their skin color, religious affiliation, culture or ethnicity or sexual orientation. This bill is an affront to everything that is to be American.

defenseman13 February 14, 2014 at 2:42 am

yep. Can't do that. Supreme Court will squash it, and I can't wait for businesses to get the crap sued out of them (as much as I hate deep pocket legislature).

bajc11 February 14, 2014 at 2:54 pm

<div id="idc-comment-msg-div-794867987" class="idc-message"><a class="idc-close" title="Click to Close Message" href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(794867987)"><span>Close Message</span> Comment posted. <p class="idc-nomargin"><a class="idc-share-facebook" target="_new" href="; style="text-decoration: none;"><span class="idc-share-inner"><span>Share on Facebook</span></span> or <a href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(794867987)">Close MessageThis is something that we have lost since they no longer teach civics in our schools. NO government entity has the power to grant anyone any rights. This law is unconstitutional, but not because it discriminates. The Constitution limits GOVERNMENT actions regarding citizens; it does not control the behavior of individuals or their private enterprise; it is supposed to control the government and too many generations have been conditioned to believe the opposite. The increase in laws – all with the best intentions to prevent discriminatory behavior – have not helped the cause of freedom – they are crushing it because the mere argument that the government can GRANT ANY RIGHTS at all is unconstitutional.

Those on both sides of this argument are going about making their case in the wrong way. If a community establishes regulations for businesses to follow in order to exist in that community, then any business applying for a license in that community must accept the rights and responsibilities of doing so. A business has the right to decline service to anyone for any reason – as long as it does not violate the contract under which it does business in that community. If it is the community granting a license to discriminate, then it is the community that must be sued for unconstitutional behavior (see Jim Crow) – not the business owners.

The Kanas legislature, or ANY legislative body in this country, especially Congress, has absolutely NO power to grant any rights at all. By claiming that any of these entities DO have this power, we have surrendered our freedom. We're agreeing to be subjected to their power, That is wrong and against what was intended by the Framers.

weshlovrcm February 13, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Does anyone seriously think it will stop with gay taxpayers? If the aggressive pro-homophobia lobby finds a way to legalize the special right to discriminate, what next? Who will they go after–Asians, Latinos, Blacks, women? Once you have laws which say anyone can discriminate against anyone based on their "sincerely held religious beliefs," it opens up a Pandora's box. This is simply another effort to turn the clock back to the 1950's where White, heterosexual males held all the power.

atbarefield February 13, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Simply put, these purely reactionary laws will be struck down by the courts. And ultimately, the SCOTUS will settle the issue of sanctioned discrimination once and for all … period!

I'm 57 year old and fully expect to witness it all while still a relatively young man!

sfbob February 13, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Congratulations to Kansas. It seems we can't use marriage equality cases to get sexual orientation declared a suspect class by the Supreme Court but laws like this just might force their hand.

defenseman13 February 14, 2014 at 2:43 am

Yep. Seal the deal already.

sfbob February 13, 2014 at 2:14 pm

It would appear, based on the wording, as though the law would not only permit individuals and businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, but would also permit a Catholic business owner not to recognize the marriage of a previously-divorced person. And so on. What this will lead to is all sorts of cat fights over who can be denied services on which religious grounds.

I don't think it needs to be repeated too often that this law is unconstitutional on its face. I suppose the state government of Kansas must be rolling in money; they'll certainly be spending (or should I say wasting) lots of it trying to defend this indefensible piece of crap in court.

Merv9999 February 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm

It should really be stressed that it's already legal in Kansas (and most states) for businesses to discriminate against gay people. The hypothetical of the innkeeper denying lodging to a gay couple is already legal, and the gay couple would have no legal recourse. In that sense, the law will have no effect. However, there are other reasons to be concerned:

* It might preempt local anti-discrimination laws
* It might make it legal for government employees to refuse government services to gay people, with or without approval of supervisors
* It might make it legal for private employees to refuse services to a gay person against the wishes of his employer

BeerandOnion February 13, 2014 at 2:58 pm

This law is unconstitutional.

Dustin February 13, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Seems to me this bill could be used in other ways. Sorry I don't have to respect you as an interracial couple. Sorry, you are Jewish/Muslim and don't believe in Jesus, so I don't have to serve you. Sorry I'm a Wiccan, I have to fire your Christian butt. It doesn't specifically state GAY, so you can read it in many ways. Therefore they are just opening up a huge hotbed of lawsuits upon themselves when people start to use the law for more than just gay hatin.

redblackqueer February 13, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Karma's quick ! Unf*ck Sam Bareback and the Republi Kans-a**holes These bible bigots didn't want to give up their slaves either. Jaysus is comin' and he's pissed !

thatoneperson1 February 19, 2014 at 2:11 am

Kansas has always been a free state…..

robw77 February 14, 2014 at 4:30 pm

The Republican leader in the Senate sent an email yesterday indicating that she does NOT expect this to pass. Let's hope it gets nipped in the bud…

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