HB 2453 “Legalized Discrimination”

I am creating this particular blog in part just for my record. I have sent numerous letters identical to the statements below and similar for which I received no response, the responses I have included here are the only ones I have received. Along with that in hopes that those who read it might see that this bill is far from “dead.” It is currently being reworked and revised. If you have not written or called your reps I encourage you to do so. This is not a “religious freedom” bill, this is a bill legalizing discrimination cloaked in religious language. This is a justice issue and the church needs to speak!

Statement to Hutchinson News

I commend Senator Wagle and am glad to see the Bill stalled and the hopes for passage are seen as dim based on pressure from the business community and the possible negative economic impact it would have. That being said, it is unfortunate that the discriminatory abuse and damage it would do to real people, with real lives, for no other reason than who they love, was not the primary reason for the Bill’s controversy and stalling by the Senate President.
As I read the bill I see no way to compromise or rework the bill that will not result in discrimination against citizens in our State, and in particular in its current form, discrimination against same gender couples, not to mention the broad scope of ambiguous language used that opens the door for all kinds of “religious” objections to marriages. Those who say this bill is not promoting discrimination, I would say, at best are too biased toward the subject and Bill to be objective or simply disingenuous at worse. If I look to this bill as an actual “religious” protection from my own Christian tradition, Jesus was only critical and condemning of the oppressive civil government of his day and the oppressive actions of some of the religious leaders of his day. Other than that he welcomed into his presence “All,” certainly did not send anyone away because of his “deeply held religious beliefs.”
Actually I do not believe this is a “religious freedom” bill at all and it breaches any sense of separation of state set forth in our Constitution and the writings of Thomas Jefferson. I believe this bill is a “discrimination” bill cloaked in religious language to appeal to certain theological based persons in our state.
My hope is that the outcry from thousands of Kansans will be noted and this bill, whether in its current form or any sense of amended form, will be scrapped immediately.

Rev. Kent H Little

Response

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me regarding House Bill 2453, an act concerning religious freedom with respect to marriage. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

After an initial review, I’ve grown concerned about the practical impacts of the bill. A strong majority of our members support laws that define traditional marriage, protect religious institutions, and protect individuals from being forced to violate their personal moral values.  However, our members also don’t condone discrimination. If we cannot find ample common ground to ease legitimate concerns, I believe a majority of my caucus will not support the bill.

As the process moves forward, I’ll work to find a fair balance between providing protections for all religions, while balancing legal and practical concerns from job creators and business owners. If we are able to craft a product with the kind of widespread appeal that I think this core issue maintains, we will proceed to full consideration in the Senate, and pass the language back to the House for review.

 I encourage you to keep in mind, that our legislative process is a long, deliberative, and ultimately thoughtful process. This is a critical factor is building strong public policy, and I’ll remain committed to ensuring our actions are subject to rigorous scrutiny.

 Thank you, again, for the opportunity to respond. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future.  

 Susan Wagle
Kansas Senate President

District 30

Letter to Judiciary Committee/Letter the Editor Wichita Eagle

To the Judiciary Committee of our Great State of Kansas,

As a citizen I find House Bill 2453 “An act concerning religious freedoms with respect to marriage,” in conflict with of any sense of separation of church and state as provided in Thomas Jefferson’s comments regarding the First Amendment. As an ordained Christian clergy I find this bill an offense to the ideals of freedom of religion, all religions, in our great country.

To consider because of religious belief or lack thereof, a citizen or government entity of our state could deny rights, benefits, or employment to anyone should be appalling to those who truly value religious freedom. A true religious freedom bill would protect the rights of citizens from discrimination and harm, not serve as a tool of oppression, or an instrument to deny rights. HR2453 is an affront to those who truly believe in justice for all.

This bill, while touted to be clear and concise is ambiguous by design and opens a dangerous door to discrimination and oppression of anyone who happens to disagree with another’s religious or non-religious belief.

Our representatives are elected to serve ALL citizens of Kansas not just the ones they agree with. Our government is not now nor has ever been a religious agency free to exclude, discriminate against, and turn away those who pay its salaries simply because they disagree with the religious beliefs of others.
The intent and agenda that lies at the root of this bill, I would say, is quite obvious a bill intentionally cloaked in the language of religious freedom while denying the very religious liberties it claim to supports! While I appreciate your service and dedication to the civil government of our great state, I find this bill a monumental waste the time and resources, our tax money. This is not a religious freedom bill; it is a bill promoting religious bigotry and oppression. I pray you scrap this bill in its entirety, amended or not.

Response

Kent,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me regarding HB 2453, a proposal to guarantee religious freedom with respect to marriage. I appreciate the opportunity to update you on where things stand pursuant to the bill’s referral to the Senate.

Because the implications of the measure probably went well beyond its original intent, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman has indicated we will not likely take-up the legislation in its House-passed form. Rather, a variation of it will be refined and narrowly tailored to meet the goal of protecting the rights of those with strongly held religious beliefs without becoming a license to openly discriminate.

This is important because a majority of my colleagues, I believe, supports laws that define traditional marriage, safeguard religious institutions, and prevent individuals from being forced to violate their personal moral values. It is when we get into the area of public safety responders and businesses that are responsible for the actions of their employees that we have to be careful about unintended consequences.

The beauty of our legislative system is that it is a long, deliberative, and eminently thoughtful process. The result is hopefully and generally to build a consensus for good public policy, with our actions being subject to rigorous scrutiny throughout. Your views are essential to securing that outcome, so I encourage you to stay involved as this issue moves toward an acceptable resolution.

Senator Julia Lynn
Kansas 9th District
Assistant Majority Leader
Commerce Committee Chair

My Response

Senator Lynn,
I appreciate you taking time to respond to my email. I know how busy you must be and can only imagine how many emails, calls, and letters you have received as a result of this bill.
While I understand the bill to be unacceptable in its current form I am more concerned about the discriminatory possibilities even with a narrower focus. For the state to pass a bill giving individuals the right to discriminate against persons who have deeply held religious beliefs that are in opposition to their own deeply held religious beliefs is not only a breach of separation of church and state but simply untenable. As an ordained clergy I support marriage between two persons in loving committed relationships regardless of their gender. To pass any form of this bill is for the state to sanction the treatment of a segment of our citizenry as “less” than another.
As you have suggested, and as I have committed myself, I will remain involved and will do all in my power and ability to see this bill discarded in any form as I pray you would as well.
Thank you for your time and service to our state.

Rev. Kent H Little

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