Kansas GOP Finds New Way to Use Religion as Anti-Gay Discrimination Tool – Will Governor Sign It?


Will Gov. Sam Brownback sign the anti-gay pro-discrimination bill on its way to his desk?

Will Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback (photo) sign an anti-gay bill? 

Of course he will.

Republicans in the Kansas House were only too happy to pass SB 175 Wednesday. The bill make it legal for religious groups at postsecondary schools - even those colleges and universities that receive taxpayer funds - to discriminate against LGBT students.

Of course, the actual word "gay" doesn't appear in the bill's text. 

The bill says no postsecondary educational institution may discriminate against a religious student group when the group requires that the leaders or members adhere or "comply with the association's sincerely held religious beliefs." Also prohibited is discrimination against a religious group because it is "committed to furthering the association's religious missions, as such religious beliefs, observance requirements, standards of conduct or missions are defined by the religious student association, or the religion on which the association is based."

In other words, college religious groups would be allowed to discriminate against LGBT people. Gay people can be refused membership, or be allowed only partial membership into a religious organization, and all that group needs to do is cite "the association's sincerely held religious beliefs."

SB 175 would also, as the Washington Blade's Chris Johnson reports, prohibits postsecondary schools from denying religious groups "meeting places or official recognition," if they discriminate against LGBT people.

Johnson notes that on Wednesday "Rep. Brandon Whipple (D-Wichita) offered two amendments to mitigate the legislation — one to clarify the bill couldn't be used for discrimination, another to clarify schools could punish associations if they engage in discrimination — but both failed on the floor."

In other words, lawmakers had every intention of the legislation being used to promote anti-LGBT discrimination.

In the House, 15 Republicans crossed the aisle to vote against it. It passed 81-41. In the Senate, just two Republicans crossed the aisle last year when the bill passed on a 30-8 vote.

Equality Kansas executive director Thomas Witt, the Blade reports, "saw no chance Brownback would veto the legislation, saying, 'It passed. It's going to be signed by the governor.'"

"This is the kind of stuff this governor supports," Witt told the Blade. "He's made it clear since he got elected he supports religious objection legislation. We had a religious objection bill every year since he got elected. This is the first one to pass. We managed to stop every other one of them."


Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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