Monday, January 20, 2014

Thomas Witt, Executive Director: "The Kansas Religious Freedom Act of 2014 " @ Equality Kansas

Regular readers of this space will surely want to slap your collective palms to your foreheads when you learn that, once again, right-wingers in the Kansas Legislature have introduced, for the fourth year in a row, another so-called “religious freedom” bill. 

This year’s attack, currently known as House Bill 2453, is markedly different from the so-called religious freedom bills in 2011, 2012, and 2013. 

The 2011/2012 versions were specifically designed to nullify all local, university, and school district non-discrimination laws and policies that included sexual orientation and gender identity among their protections. 

Fortunately for us, those versions failed to pass. Publicly citing our rather noisy and aggressive opposition, the conservative leadership in the Legislature introduced and passed a 2013 version that lacked the explicitly anti-LGBT provisions of its predecessors. 

Unfortunately for us, they’re back with a new bill that once again targets us directly. HB2453 is quite simple: it says anyone who objects to married same-sex couples may legally pretend our marriages don’t exist. No, really. That’s what it does. Let’s say the Supreme Court tosses the Kansas ban on same-sex marriages (it’s coming, friends, it’s coming). Our newly-legal marriages then become legally invisible to anyone who squeezes shut their eyes, plugs their ears, and hollers LA LA LA LA LA as loudly as they can. 

Under HB2453, county clerks won’t have to issue you a marriage license. 

Under HB2453, companies won’t have to offer you the same spousal benefits they offer other married couples. 

Under HB2453, hospitals can pretend you’re not the next-of-kin to your dying spouse. 

Under HB2453, your boss can deny you bereavement leave to bury the above-mentioned spouse. 

Under HB2453, it’s not just individuals who get to pretend you’re not married. It’s entire agencies of the state government. It’s whole for-profit companies. It’s any man, woman, child, stray dog, and random breeze that gets to pretend you’re not really married. All they have to say is “God told me so.” 

Call it the Chik-Fil-A Bigotry Protection Act. 

Call it the Sam Brownback Really REALLY Hates The Gays Act. 

Call it the Jan Pauls’ Dream Act. But wait, there’s more. If you try to sue a Kansas government agency (or anyone else) to have your rights as a married person recognized, good luck to you. 

Under HB2453, no “fact-finding” will be permitted in court to prove your case. This isn’t just blinders being placed on Justice – it’s a heavy dark sack pulled over her head and cinched tightly around her neck. 

The radical right wants to deny us our rights and deny our access to the courts. They want to deny the very fact of our existence. Enough. Help us fight this nonsense. 

The committee hearing on this bill is scheduled for this Thursday morning at 9:00 am. If you’d like to testify in front of the committee and tell the legislature why this injustice is a horrible, no good, rotten idea, email me at 

Be sure to include your phone number. I’ll need to hear from you before the end of business on Tuesday, January 21. 

If you can’t testify, please consider a contribution to help us fight for our cause. Checks can be mailed to 800 N. Market Street, Wichita, KS 67214, or you can contribute via paypal at 

For those who care to read it, a copy of the bill can be found on the Legislature’s website at 

Watch this space for more things you can do to help stop this year’s latest descent into anti-LGBT madness. 

Thomas Witt, Executive Director Equality Kansas 
Mobile 785-220-2355 | Office 316-683-1706

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