Kan. religious freedom bill dies after being labeled 'segregation' [CNA]


#1

Topeka, Kan., Feb 21, 2014 / 02:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Kansas bill to protect the conscience rights of those who morally object to “gay marriage” stalled in the legislature after opponents portrayed it as a discrimination law akin to the Jim Crow laws of the early 20th century.

“Protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience does not infringe on anyone’s sexual freedoms,” said Ryan Anderson, pro-family scholar and co-author of “What is Marriage: Man, Woman, a Defense,” in a Feb. 19 article for National Review Online.

“Americans are free to live and love how they choose, but they should not use government to penalize those who think and act differently,” Anderson argued. “All Americans should be free to believe and act in the public square based on their beliefs about marriage as the union of a man and woman without fear of government penalty.”

The bill sought to ensure conscience protections for individuals, businesses and officials who believed that affirming same-sex “marriage” ceremonies or unions “would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.”  

It would have offered protection to florists, photographers, wedding vendors, adoption agencies, counseling services and other groups with deeply held religious convictions over the nature of marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. These individuals and organizations would have been able to decline participation in same-sex wedding ceremonies, receptions and adoptions without fear of legal action.

The bill was proposed in response to numerous lawsuits across the country facing organizations that declined to support same-sex unions for reasons of conscience. However, after passing the state House of Representatives, it died in the state Senate when leaders refused to let it move forward in committee.

Opponents of the bill had adamantly argued against it, claiming that extending religious conscience rights to all individuals involved in weddings would be “essentially arguing for homosexual Jim Crow laws.”

Columnist Kristen Powers argued in a Feb. 19 article for USA Today that wedding vendors are not “celebrating their wedding union” but instead hired to “provide a service.”

“It's not clear why some Christian vendors are so confused about their role here,” Powers said, charging that “Christianity doesn't prohibit serving a gay couple getting married,” and likening the bill to the Jim Crow laws that enforced racial discrimination in the southern United States before the Civil Rights movement.

Mark Joseph Stern of Slate also objected to the bill in a Feb. 13 article, calling it “anti-gay segregation” and suggesting that it meant that private “employers can continue to fire gay employees on account of their sexuality,” that stores “may deny gay couples goods and services because they are gay” and that businesses that “provide public accommodations – movie theaters, restaurants – can turn away gay couples at the door.”

The Kansas Catholic Conference had worked to reject these claims, arguing that “a campaign of distortion” was being waged to discredit the bill.

Citing the text of the actual legislation, the Catholic Conference clarified that the bill would not permit businesses to discriminate based upon sexual orientation.

“The bill does not create a right for businesses to refuse service to someone just because they are gay,” the conference stressed. Rather, it explained, the proposed legislation covers “a narrow range of conduct” dealing only with the recognition of and participation in same-sex “marriages.”

Anderson reiterated that the bill is not discriminatory, but instead prevents “the kind of coercion that happened under Jim Crow” by protecting “what should be already protected: basic civil liberties such as freedom of association, freedom of contract, and freedom of religion.”

He clarified that the bill “would only protect religious individuals and organizations from being forced to provide services related to marriage” and its celebration, and “would not allow businesses, individuals, or government employees from refusing to serve someone (or a couple) simply because of his or her sexual orientation.”

Furthermore, quoting First Lady Michelle Obama, he said that our “faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday for a good sermon and good music and a good meal. It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well.” For many people, Anderson explained, “being a wedding photographer is not simply being “a vendor,” but utilizing God-given talents to tell the story of a particular couple and their relationship.

“It is understandable why some religious believers would not want the government coercing them into doing that,” he said, adding that the government “shouldn’t enshrine” one view of wedding participation “into law and then coerce those who have a different understanding of what their faith requires.”

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#2

Disappointing to say the least.


#3

While it would have been nice to see it pass I didn’t have much faith in this bill. I put more faith in prayer


#4

I am so sick and tired of seeing our religious freedom being attacked. Its been under attack ever since the HHS Mandate and possibly even before that but I’m not sure. Its just sickening to see our religious freedom attacked like this in our nation which is supposed to guarantee our freedom of religion in the federal constitution. I am beginning to wonder if there won’t be a far worse persecution of Catholics and non-Catholic Christians in the coming years.


#5

Religious freedom means you have the right to worship free of harassment it doesn’t give you the right to discriminate against someone even if it’s for religious reasons.


#6

:rolleyes: People are legally discriminated against every day. That is the purpose of a government: to discriminate.


#7

What exactly you mean by discrimination?


#8

If the courts had ruled this was the case, you’d have a point.


#9

No. Religious freedom means you are able to LIVE your religion. It means a whole lot more than just worship on Sunday.

What is discrimination, is being forced to be complicit in an act your conscience as well as your religion states is immoral.


#10

Religious freedom also includes taking responsibility for the exercise of that freedom. Perfect example: Is there a reason why none of these businesses can post a generic “We Reserve The Right To Refuse To Anyone” sign on their door? Problem solved. I see those signs everywhere. They sell those signs everywhere from Home Depot and Lowe’s to the 99 Cent Store. I ask this as charitably as possible, but what the heck ever happened to personal responsibility? Seriously. This is a “conservative” piece of legislation? Where have all the Ron Paul folks disappeared to? :confused:

And I’m still at a loss to understand how a Christian business is being “persecuted” by gays who want to patronize their business, not boycott it. What would Jesus do in a situation like this? What would Pope Francis do? It’s a simple concept. The customer pays you for a good or service, you provide them that good or service and give them their change. It’s a common business transaction that does not infringe upon your faith.


#11

Where in the Catechism of the Catholic Church are we expressly forbidden from exchanging in basic (indeed, routine) business transactions with gays? The notion that mere business transaction is tantamount to “celebrating” sodomy and immorality is personal perspective at best and not a teaching of the Magisterium. So, please - what paragraph number best substantiates the need for such flawed legislation?

:popcorn:


#12

The secular world is on a completely different wavelength.

To them, refusing services that relate to gay marriage is like saying, “You’re less than me. I don’t recognize your right to have the same freedom as me. You’re sinful homosexuals, and your marriage will be the end of society. [Insert angry face]”

To them, it’s just flowers, wedding invitations, and cakes that straight people have access to. It’s an insult to their basic equality as humans.

To Christians/Catholics, it’s, “I don’t devalue you as a person, but I cannot partake in a ceremony that goes against my beliefs. Please find another vendor who may cater to your needs.”

To Christians/Catholics, it’s indirectly partaking in an immoral act. Not providing flowers, wedding invitations, and cakes will not cause someone to be gravely harmed. (Not like they will starve or be left homeless. Although if taken to the extreme, gays could in theory actually be denied housing. But anyways…)

Then there’s all that shouting, extremism, and bitterness on both sides.


#13

The purpose of this bill was to protect those whose conscience or religion prevented them from participating in a gay marriage. Nowhere did it say anything about “basic (indeed, routine) business transactions with gays?” And, I am sure you know, that nowhere in the Catechism of the Catholic Church will you find instructions forbidding such. Quite the contrary.


#14

Bakers, photographers, innkeepers, caterers……are being brought to court, are receiving hefty fines, are forced to go out of business, have their names slandered in the media for declining to participate in a ceremony that their religion states is immoral. Therein lies the persecution.

“What would Jesus do?” I can’t answer that, as no one could. But, I do know that when encountering sinners, Jesus blessed them and said, “Go, and sin no more.”


#15

They were not invited to participate in anyone’s ceremony. Wedding cakes are not part of a ceremony. Neither are photographs, buffets, or motels. Those who wish for a resurgence of segregation are merely using religion as a smokescreen for their personal prejudices.


#16

They are being asked to contribute to an immoral act, an act that their religion states is immoral. It is not a personal prejudice, as any baker, photographer, caterer…would gladly provide services for any other occasion, and has been stated so, many times. It is not directed at the person, but rather at the ceremony.

Resurgence of segregation??? No, people just don’t want to be forced to participate in immoral acts.


#17

They are not in the business of dispensing their personal “moral” opinions. Besides, there is nothing immoral about photographing, providing a cake for, or catering a party.


#18

You either follow your faith, or you don’t. Declining to provide a service contrary to your faith is not “dispensing” your “personal moral opinions.” It is simply following your faith. And that should be respected.


#19

Why? Saying something is apart of your “faith” doesn’t magically make it acceptable. If you provide a service then you provide it to anyone who can afford it not just to the ones your “conscience” tells you to.


#20

The Church has stated homosexual acts are sinful, not me. I understand many people do not follow Church teaching or are of other religions that have different beliefs. Understand though, that many people do follow Church teaching.


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