The Kansas House has approved a bill aimed at keeping individuals, groups and businesses from being compelled to help with same-sex weddings. The House's 72-49 vote Wednesday sends HB 2453 to the Senate. Supporters describe it as a religious freedom measure. Opponents contend it will encourage discrimination against gays and lesbians. The bill would bar government sanctions when individuals, groups and businesses cite religious beliefs in refusing to recognize a marriage or civil union, or to provide goods, services, accommodations or employment benefits to a couple.
When passed, the new law will allow any individual, group, or private business to refuse to serve gay couples if "it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs." Private employers can continue to fire gay employees on account of their sexuality. Stores may deny gay couples goods and services because they are gay. Hotels can eject gay couples or deny them entry in the first place. Businesses that provide public accommodations -- movie theaters, restaurants -- can turn away gay couples at the door. And if a gay couple sues for discrimination, they won't just lose; they'll be forced to pay their opponent's attorney's fees. As I've noted before, anti-gay businesses might as well put out signs alerting gay people that their business isn't welcome.