Senate President expresses doubt about religious freedom bill

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WICHITA, Kan. -- The President of the Kansas Senate said Thursday she is not sure a majority of Senators will support a controversial religious freedom bill passed by the House.

Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, issued this statement Thursday evening:

"After an initial review, I've grown concerned about the practical impact of the bill. 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. However, my members also don't condone discrimination. If we cannot find ample common ground to erase legitimate concerns, I believe a majority of my caucus will not support the bill."

The bill, House Bill 2453, prevents individuals, businesses and groups who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds from being sued if they decline to provide services to same-sex couples.

Backers of the bill, which passed the House 72-49 Wednesday, said it ensures the religious beliefs of Kansans will be protected. Opponents say the bill encourages discrimination against homosexuals.

Wagle referred the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. No hearings have yet been scheduled.

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