First, the good news: A bill approved Wednesday by the Kansas House of Representatives by a vote of 72 to 49 that would allow for Jim Crow-style anti-gay discrimination seems unlikely to pass even in the Republican-controlled Senate, according to Senate President Susan Wagle.
After an initial review, I've grown concerned about the practical impact of the bill...A strong majority of my members support laws that define traditional marriage, protect religious institutions, and protect individuals from being forced to violate their personal moral values. However, my members also don't condone discrimination. If we cannot find ample common ground to ease legitimate concerns, I believe a majority of my caucus will not support the bill.
It's a good thing, too, because said practical impact is nothing short of comprehensive oppression. The Daily Beast's Jamelle Bouie wrote an excellent breakdown of the bill, which would allow for things like:
- The refusal of service in any sort of public retail establishment (restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters, dry cleaners, florists, trophy shops).
- The refusal of service in any sort of state-funded establishment. Says Bouie: "Ambulances can refuse to come to the home of a gay couple, park managers can deny them entry, state hospitals can turn them away, and public welfare agencies can decline to work with them. Yes, the bill requires private managers and state employees to refer the couple to another person who will conduct their business, but in reality, those rules have a habit of falling by the wayside."
- The refusal of service to non-gays who are attempting to purchase something for a gay couple if the transaction is "related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement." In fact, as long as a prospective transaction is suspected of being gay-related, business owners could refuse it.
- Any gay couple who challenges such discrimination with a civil suit would have to pay for their opponents' attorney fees.