As such it’s easy and normally best to simply discount them as immoral agendists who care nothing for anything but their own self-images. But what about those singular times when the Queers are neither wrong nor hyperbolic in their claims?
On Tuesday, February 11, 2014 the Kansas State House of Representatives easily passed House Bill 2453 by a vote of 72 : 49. Kansas’ HB 2453 would permit individuals, businesses, and government employees to deny service to same-sex couples on the basis of their religious principles.
AN ACT concerning religious freedoms with respect to marriage.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:
Section 1. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender
(a) Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement;
(b) solemnize any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement; or
(c) treat any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement as valid.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no refusal by an individual or religious entity to engage in any activity described in section 1, and amendments thereto, shall result in:
1) civil claim or cause of action under state or local law based upon such refusal; or
2) an action by any governmental entity to penalize, withhold benefits from, discriminate against or otherwise disadvantage any protected individual or religious entity, under any state or local law.
(b) Any individual or religious entity named in or subject to a civil action, an administrative action or any action by a governmental entity may immediately assert the protections provided by section 1, and amendments thereto, or this section, as a defense by moving to dismiss such action. If the motion to dismiss is filed in an action before an administrative tribunal, within 15 days after the filing of such motion any party to such action may elect to transfer jurisdiction of such action to a district court with proper venue. Within 60 days after such transfer of jurisdiction, the district court shall decide whether the claimed protection applies. The district court shall not permit any additional discovery or fact-finding prior to making its decision.
(c) If a governmental entity, or any person asserts a claim or cause of action, or takes any adverse action against an individual or religious entity in violation of subsection (a), such individual or religious entity shall be entitled upon request to recover all reasonable attorney fees, costs and damages such individual or religious entity incurred as a result of such violation.
(d) If an individual employed by a governmental entity or other non-religious entity invokes any of the protections provided by section 1, and amendments thereto, as a basis for declining to provide a lawful service that is otherwise consistent with the entity’s duties or policies, the individual’s employer, in directing the performance of such service, shall either promptly provide another employee to provide such service, or shall otherwise ensure that the requested service is provided, if it can be done without undue hardship to the employer.
Section 3. As used in sections 1 through 4, and amendments thereto:
(a) “Religious entity” means an organization, regardless of its non-profit or for-profit status, and regardless of whether its activities are deemed wholly or partly religious, that is:
1) A religious corporation, association, educational institution or society;
2) an entity operated, supervised or controlled by, or connected with, a religious corporation, association, educational institution or society; or
3) a privately-held business operating consistently with its sincerely held religious beliefs, with regard to any activity described in section l, and amendments thereto.
(b) “Governmental entity” means the executive, legislative and judicial branches and any and all agencies, boards, commissions, departments, districts, authorities or other entities, subdivisions or parts whatsoever of state and local government, as well as any person acting under color of law.
(a) If any word, phrase, clause or provision of sections 1 through 4, and amendments thereto, or the application of any such word, phrase, clause or provision to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remaining provisions shall be given effect without the invalid portion and to this end the provisions of sections 1 through 4, and amendments thereto, are severable.
(b) Nothing in sections 1 through 4, and amendments thereto, shall be construed to allow any individual or entity, acting under color of state law to perform any marriage prohibited by state law, including, but not limited to, laws relating to plural marriage, incest, consanguinity and marriageable age.
(c) Nothing in sections 1 through 4, and amendments thereto, shall be construed to authorize any governmental discrimination or penalty against any individual or religious entity based upon its performance, facilitation or support of any celebrations of same-gender unions or relationships.
(d) The provisions of sections 1 through 4, and amendments thereto, shall be construed in favor of a broad protection of religious exercise, to the maximum extent permitted by their terms and by the constitutions of this state and the United States of America
Section 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its publication in the statute book.
I’m always among the first to discount and disparage the “usual suspects” in the special interests activism sphere but I have to side with their claims on this one. It’s essentially Jim Crow as applied to queers or, at least, any queers who are publicly couples.
Admittedly, I’m somewhat ambivalent over all parts of this bill that pertain to the private sector because I don’t think that the rights and privileges of queers should ever trump Americans’ rights to free association, property, or religious expression. The government and its employees, however, do not enjoy all of those rights and including them in the bill is more than a little disturbing.
Finally, as purely a matter of law, I don’t like this bill at all. I can’t see where an objective legal test can be made for “sincerely held religious beliefs” and, hence, this law is crying out to be voided solely on those grounds by the Courts.