A week ago, the Kansas House of Representatives handily passed a billpermitting anyone with religious scruples against homosexuality to discriminate against them. Restaurant owners could deny gay couples a table, hotels owners would be empowered to adopt a straight-only guest policy and employers could fire or refuse to hire individuals based on their sexuality. The legislation provides that no one is required to “provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges” to gay people if doing so “would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
This is just what it sounds like: Jim Crow for gays. It is legal facilitation of segregated public accommodations along sexual lines.
Yet the sponsor of the bill, one Charles Macheers, is pitching it as a piece of legislation to combat prejudice and discrimination:
Discrimination is horrible. It’s hurtful … It has no place in civilized society, and that’s precisely why we’re moving this bill. There have been times throughout history where people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs because they were unpopular. This bill provides a shield of protection for that.
The first-annual Praxis Chutzpah Comment of the Year Award goes to Charles Macheers, a man who is brazen enough to call retrograde discrimination “civilized” and decry “discrimination” while pushing a bill that would allow bigots to exercise their bigotry with impunity.
And the first-annual Praxis Thank God for Reasonable Republicans Award goes to the GOP president of the Kansas Senate, Susan Wagle, who has declared the House bill dead on arrival. “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,” Wagle said. “However, my members also don’t condone discrimination.”
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