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Sat Feb 16, 2013, 04:26 PM

New version of Kansas Religious Preservation Act appears to address gay rights concerns

This bill was quite controversial last year ...

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2013/feb/10/gay-rights-group-neutral-new-version-kansas-religi/?kansas_legislature

Topeka — The Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, which last year was portrayed by some as anti-gay, has re-emerged this year, but in a form that gay rights advocates say they can live with.

“We don’t have an issue with the bill,” said Tom Witt, executive director of the Kansas Equality Coalition.

During the 2012 legislative session, Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration and state Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, pushed for the Religious Preservation Act, saying it was needed to prevent the government from interfering with an individual’s beliefs.

“Free exercise of religion is at the core of who we are as a people,” Kinzer had said. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer cited the health care overhaul signed by President Barack Obama that requires most employers to cover birth control as an example of the federal government trampling on religious liberties.

The original version of the Religious Preservation Act would have prohibited government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless it furthered a compelling interest and was done in the least restrictive way possible.

But a person couldn’t cite religious beliefs to discriminate against individuals covered by the Kansas Act Against Discrimination. This includes discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin or ancestry.

Gay rights advocates said that because sexual orientation wasn’t covered by the Kansas Act Against Discrimination, the Religious Preservation Act could allow someone to use his or her religious beliefs to discriminate against gays.

Lesbians and gays opposed the bill at the time, with Witt calling it “nothing more than legislative gay-bashing.”

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Reply New version of Kansas Religious Preservation Act appears to address gay rights concerns (Original post)
RKP5637 Feb 2013 OP
dsc Feb 2013 #1
MuseRider Feb 2013 #2
Warren Stupidity Feb 2013 #3
MuseRider Feb 2013 #5
RKP5637 Feb 2013 #4
MuseRider Feb 2013 #6

Response to RKP5637 (Original post)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 04:30 PM

1. I would typically trust an equality group to know what is best for its state

but I fail to see the improvement here from last year to this in terms of these bills.

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Response to dsc (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 04:48 PM

2. Here is the original response from Tom Witt, this may help explain it.


Greetings KEC Members -

On Friday, the Kansas House of Representatives introduced the 2013 version of the "Religious Freedom Preservation Act" as HB 2203. Regular readers of this space will remember that the 2011/2012 version, HB 2260, caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

This year's HB2203 is somewhat different from last year's HB2260 in this respect:

The anti-LGBT language is missing.

We have asked the ACLU and our board counsel for their input on HB2203, and they agree - while still a dangerous bill, it is no longer targeted at local non-discrimination policies and ordinances.

Here's the 2011/2012 version that died in the State Senate last year:

http://www.kslegislature.org/li_2012/b2011_12/measures/documents/hb2260_01_0000.pdf

You'll see that in the original bill, Page 1, lines 21 through 31 defines "compelling government interest" as only what's in the current Kansas Act Against Discrimination (KSA 44-1001). That was how they were trying to make local non-discrimination ordinances and policies unenforceable.

That's the section that is missing from the new bill:

http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2013_14/measures/documents/hb2203_00_0000.pdf

Frankly, I was very surprised by this. There is, of course, the possibility that the bill can be amended at any point in the process, but then it would be even more obvious that they are targeting the LGBT community.

Besides language, there's something procedurally different going on. The 2011/2012 version was a committee bill - one where the authors could keep their fingerprints from being obvious. This year, the bill is sponsored by 39 Republicans and 2 Democrats (Jan Pauls and Jerry Henry). That means they've seen and considered this language prior to putting their names on it, and are publicly saying "this is the version I support."

I will also spend the session keeping a *VERY* close eye on this bill. It's a long process, and just about anything can happen. I will be sure to send out action alerts should this bill go from being benign to being hostile to our interests.

Tom

It is a very stupid bill. This is a tea party run state right now. This is a very stupid state and our legislature reflects that. The very fact that we held it in committee and it could not pass through the committee last year is something. If you have questions you may ask them, Tom will be here this week at my house and I can get the answers. I have not been active, my husband has been pretty ill and I am way behind on the game at the moment but beginning to pick back up.

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Response to MuseRider (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 05:35 PM

3. I assume that this section avoids any interpretation that would legalize gay marriage


Sec. 4. (a) Nothing in this act shall be construed to:
...
authorize any relationship, marital or otherwise, that would
violate section 16 of article 15 of the constitution of the state of Kansas;

Nobody should support this piece of crap.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 06:29 PM

5. Well we are not supporting it.

Sure it sucks, of course it does as does everything else that you will see happening in Kansas. I do not have time right now to go into this but will be back later tonight and will also have tomorrow. If you do want to talk to me about it you can always PM me or we can do it here on the thread if you like. Just know that we are not supporting it but we cannot stop it. There is no way we can do anything but pick our battles and work our way in. We held up well until this year. We have 124 Republicans, almost all the moderates were targeted and are now gone so many of these are tea party (remember the Koch brothers are in this state and they are running everything) and 41 democrats who, for the most part, will not talk about our issues with us and many who will slam the door in your face when you knock on the door.

So, I got a bad vibe from you and I can certainly understand it but I just want you to know the circumstances we are working under. We are still here and we are still working. More later if you wish.

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Response to MuseRider (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 05:39 PM

4. Thanks very much for having added the additional information.

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 06:29 PM

6. You are welcome.

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