UPDATE: Proposed Kansas response on gay unions debated

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House members have given first-round approval to a bill aimed at protecting people, groups and businesses that cite religious reasons for refusing to provide goods or services for gay weddings.

The vote Tuesday was 72-42. The measure advanced even though critics suggested the bill would encourage widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The House plans to take final action on the bill Wednesday, and it's likely to pass.

The bill bars government sanctions for refusing to recognize a marriage or civil union, or to provide goods or services to a couple. Anti-discrimination lawsuits also would be barred.

Critics have zeroed in on limited protections in the bill for individual workers and government employees even if their employers want to provide goods and services to gay couples.


Previous story:

The main sponsor of a so-called religious freedom measure in Kansas says it's neutral on marriage but acknowledges it arises from concerns that the state's ban on gay unions may be overturned by the federal courts.

State Rep. and Shawnee Republican Charles Macheers defended the measure as the House debated it Tuesday. He said it's narrowly drafted to protect individuals, groups and businesses that don't want to participate in gay weddings.

But he also said opponents of gay marriage want protection should Kansas no longer ban gay marriage.

The bill would bar government sanctions for refusing to recognize a marriage or civil union, or to provide goods or services to a couple. Anti-discrimination lawsuits also would be barred.

Critics say the bill would encourage discrimination against gays and lesbians.


Previous story:

A proposal aimed at preventing Kansas residents from being forced to help with same-sex weddings is coming up for a debate in the state House.

Supporters of the bill on the House's agenda Tuesday 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. Anti-discrimination lawsuits also would be barred.

Critics are most worried about language that extends the protections to state and local government employees, even though the measure requires agencies to seek an alternative if a worker doesn't want to assist a gay couple.


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