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Kansas Senate Republicans block bill that would have legalized religious discrimination

A controversial bill that would have allowed religious people to refuse to serve same-sex couples in Kansas has been blocked after even Republican state senators found it to be too extreme
Senator Susan Wagle
Photo by Eric Montgomery

A Kansas state bill allowing religious people to legally discriminate against same-sex couples has been blocked by Republican state senators after they found it to be too extreme.

Under the bill any business owned by a religious person or government employee who was religious would have been able to refuse goods and services to same-sex couples.

The bill was passed by the state House of Representatives but has now been blocked in the senate where Republicans hold a 32 to 8 majority.

Senate Republicans said that allowing government employees to legally discriminate in their duties went too far and that the bill would have to be amended before they could even consider passing it.

Businesses in Kansas can already legally discriminate against anyone they want to as the state has no anti-discrimination laws.

‘I believe that when you hire police officers or a fireman that they have no choice in who they serve. They serve anyone who’s vulnerable, any age, any race, any sexual orientation, Republican Senate President Susan Wagle told the Wichita Eagle on Friday.

‘Public service needs to remain public service for the entire public.

‘[This bill] actually overturns our current laws that represent at-will employment, in that an employer can hire and fire any individual for any reason. The business community is just tremendously concerned about how this will affect the employer-employee relationship.’

LGBTI rights group Equality Kansas welcomed Wagle’s comments and responded with a statement of their own.

‘We are glad Senate President Wagle agrees that certain provisions of HB2483 promote discrimination,’ the group said.

‘Equality Kansas proposed amendments in the House that we believe would have made the bill more acceptable, and if the Senate chooses to move forward with hearings, we look forward to working with them to draft language that will protect the religious liberties of all Kansans, while at the same time ensuring the dignity of gay and lesbian couples across the state.’

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