Kansas might as well start producing “Only Heterosexuals Served Here” signs for businesses and government offices.
A bill that sailed through the state’s House of Representatives tells Kansans: You can be as discriminatory as you like against homosexuals and the state will have your back. Just be sure and do it in God’s name!
The bill is meeting pushback in the Kansas Senate, but don’t be fooled. This is denial and fear on steroids. It’s happening across the country. And it won’t be the last we’ll hear of such legislative efforts.
The legislation is aimed at civil unions. It’s a pre-emptive strike to ensure that people “with sincerely held religious beliefs” against homosexuality will be able to turn gay couples away if they request flowers for a wedding, a banquet hall for a reception or wish to hire a photographer for their civil ceremony. Also covered are those involved with adoption, foster care, counseling or social services, including government employees. Like a city clerk who might want to cite his Bible to avoid legally recognizing a gay marriage declared valid elsewhere.
The politicians who support this nonsense have no clue what discrimination looks like, feels like or how it has historically has functioned in society. The constant cry rationalizing this bill and similar measures elsewhere is that it is religious conservatives — not homosexuals — who are apt to suffer from discrimination.
Really? I’m doubtful that any has entered a public business to be told that their money is no good there — because they’re a Christian. Nor have they suffered the added humiliation of being slurred as they are shown the door. So the idea of ensuring such denial of public accommodation as a legally protected “right,” something no aggrieved person could ever sue for, feels just dandy to them. Justified, even.
What’s really happening — what’s threatening the religious conservatives of Kansas — is that the general public’s views on homosexuality are shifting. Rapidly.
People under the age of 25 shrugged at the hoopla surrounding All-American lineman Michael Sam’s public announcement that he is gay before the NFL draft. Seventeen states have legalized same-sex marriage so couples can gain the tax benefits, insurance, medical protections and legal responsibilities that straight people have long held. And federal courts have overturned bans against same-sex marriages in Utah and Oklahoma.
So religious conservatives now take up the mantle of a minority. That’s one of the few honest things about this conversation. Their view of homosexuality will soon be (if it is not already) a minority opinion.
Yet they miss crucial points. No government authority — neither the courts nor the executive branch — is telling people that they can’t continue to decry homosexuality. They can quote the Bible to condemn it all they want. Preachers can preach that God has naught but fiery damnation in store for LGBT people. Churches can continue to bar gay couples from marriage and any other sacrament.