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Kansas state Senator declares gay discrimination bill is dead

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. — An anti-gay marriage proposal that roiled Kansas politics is dead, the chairman of a state Senate committee assigned to review it said Tuesday.

But the declaration from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff King didn’t appear likely to end the debate over providing legal protections for people and organizations refusing for religious reasons to provide goods and services to gay and lesbian couples.

KansasKing, an Independence Republican, said he’ll still have hearings on whether Kansas needs to enact religious liberty protections in case the federal courts strike down the state’s gay-marriage ban.

The House approved a bill last week to prohibit government sanctions or anti-discrimination lawsuits when individuals, groups and businesses cite their religious beliefs in refusing to provide goods, services, accommodations and employment benefits related to a marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, or a celebration of such relationships.

Supporters said their intent was to prevent florists, bakers and photographers from being punished for refusing to participate in same-sex weddings, keep churches from having to provide space or clergy for such ceremonies and keep religiously affiliated adoption agencies from being forced to place children with gay couples. Critics said the bill was much broader than advertised and would encourage discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Senate leaders already had said the bill would not pass their chamber, but King said Tuesday that his committee won’t even take it up.

“We’re not working House Bill 2453,” said King, an Independence Republican, referring to the measure by number.

King said he’s not drafting a narrower alternative. He said he’ll have hearings so interested parties can have national experts discuss whether Kansas needs a new law.

“Something new would have to arise out of these hearings,” he said.

Supporters said frequently that the bill has been misrepresented. Rep. Steve Brunk, a Wichita Republican and chairman of the House committee that handled the bill, said the intent was “religious liberties protection.”

“The issue is not going to go away,” Brunk said. “As the topic progresses, we’ll refine the language.”

But some House members felt burned.

“It’s so tainted now, it needs to go away,” said Rep. Scott Schwab, a conservative Olathe Republican, who supported the bill. “Did I make a vote that I regret? Yeah; that happens.”

Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, the state’s leading gay-rights group, said he’s pleased by King’s declaration that the House bill is dead but doesn’t expect the issue to vanish. His group and several others are planning a “Rally for Equality” next week at the Statehouse.

Kansas is one of five states where lawmakers have introduced “religious freedom” bills targeting same-sex couples, mostly in response to the rapid advancement of marriage equality.

A bill in South Dakota was defeated earlier Tuesday, as was a bill in Tennessee.

Arizona’s bill is still making its way in the state legislature, and a measure in Idaho is on hold.

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68 more reader comments:

  1. Amen!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:08am
  2. Yay! :3

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:09am
  3. !

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:09am
  4. Great news!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:10am
  5. hell yes

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:10am
  6. Go Kansas! Kisses from Brazil!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:10am
  7. Yesssss

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:10am
  8. Thank God!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:10am
  9. Sanity does prevail…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:10am
  10. whoooohoooooo kansas here i come ……..

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:11am
  11. phew, I can breath again

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:11am
  12. Way to go

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:11am
  13. So did Tennessee. As we knew it would be.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:11am
  14. Great news. Two defeats in one day ;)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:11am
  15. they sgould know better election are this year to renew the house

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:12am
  16. Thank goodness!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:12am
  17. Wow. Amen

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:13am
  18. RIP Scapegoater!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:14am
  19. Ang Walters

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:16am
  20. YES!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:16am
  21. Omg thank you!!! I’d hate living here If it would have passed

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:16am
  22. I’m so ashamed to have been born there.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:16am
  23. Whatever I still have no fucking desire to go there. The fact that it was even a consideration is disgusting.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:17am
  24. im embarrassed to live here. The thought of them considering it was horrible. shame sham shame on them

    Replied on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 2:43am
  25. Let’s us provide those who supported such a bill a one way ticket to Russia?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:18am
  26. They can live with Snowden!

    Replied on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:07am
  27. Why torture a good man like Snowden? Nah! Send them to the middle east, they would get along fine with the people there since they believe the same type of stuff.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 6:13am
  28. Awesome news!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:21am
  29. Thank god.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:25am
  30. We will see…Toto I thought that house dropped on that bitch!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:25am
  31. Wootwoot!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:29am
  32. I really do live in Pennslytucky….come on Pennsylvania!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:31am
  33. Hot damn hell yea!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:33am
  34. Why the hell even put something like this out there? Even if it had made it through, it would have been struck down by the supreme court. Sounds like intimidation to me.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:34am
  35. Yes sir equality

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:35am
  36. Cause ya look Ignorant! Justice will prevail!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:39am
  37. Who was the idiot that even tried to get this bill passed in the first place? Because I want to slap them. Discrimination is wrong in any form. I’m glad this bill was shot down. I would have lost all faith in humanity.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:54am
  38. a representative from my city. he's a disgrace, and i plan on campaigning against him.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:59am
  39. Yes!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:58am
  40. The original bill may be dead, but I think one with slightly different wording is about to be introduced. Don’t let your guard down.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 1:04am
  41. Be clear. . If it happened one day it will come back. They just need longer to rant the Fear Tactics to sneak it back on the docket.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 1:06am
  42. what about Arizona??????

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 1:32am
  43. GOOD!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 1:33am
  44. Fuck that shit gay is ok in my book everyone else should be drawn and quartered

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 1:54am
  45. Everyone else fuck you and burn in hell

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 1:55am
  46. I think we can all agree that this disgusting bill shouldn’t have existed in the first place.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 2:13am
  47. douches

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 2:14am
  48. Equal rights for Gays in all USA! :-)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 2:23am
  49. Me and my girl want too get married in ks

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 2:23am
  50. Glad someone dropped a house on that idea!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 2:36am
  51. I still say: fuck you, Kansas!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 2:38am
  52. The representative from my town voted for it. So I’ll be doing a little letter to the editor an anything else that will get it out there. I don’t think it is over yet, we need to stay alert.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 2:55am
  53. Whoever introduced it needs to be voted out.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 2:56am
  54. The Republicans still have it on tap for the other red states and the House of “Representatives.” Vote Democrat!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 3:04am
  55. WHAT A WIN FOR HUMANITY WE ALL HAVE RIGHTS UNDER OUR CONSTITUTION

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 3:07am
  56. Emma Mertes

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 3:58am
  57. Yessssssssssssss

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 3:58am
  58. Colton Carpenter yes this is what I told you. The bill was killed in the senate. The House of Representatives passed the bill before it was killed in the senate. This is what I said. It was never passed. Thank god for that. I’m only claiming that I was right.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:40am
  59. Good!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:45am
  60. It isn’t over yet. There’s another bigot trying to write a new bill with sneakier wording. Time to vote out the Republican party ..

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 5:05am
  61. VOTE Democratic in 2014!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 7:35am
  62. Thank you Kansas Senate!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 7:55am
  63. This is awesome news! Bill killed in Kansas, Tennessee, South Dakota and on hold in Idaho. Next bill to die..Arizona.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 10:48am
  64. Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 11:08am
  65. …it time to come back to Kansas, darling Dorothy… <3 <3 <3

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:36pm
  66. Cheers !

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 2:14pm
  67. Ding dong

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 2:16pm
  68. Battle may be won, but those who dream of a Christian theocracy are still plotting!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 3:17pm