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Kansas House Committee Holds Hearing On Religious Freedom Legislation

Stephen Koranda

So-called religious freedom legislation and same-sex marriage were the talk of a Kansas Statehouse committee yesterday. The idea behind religious freedom legislation is that it could protect people who are opposed to same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

A Washington state florist who was sued for refusing to provide flowers for a same sex wedding urged Kansas lawmakers to protect businesses like hers.

“The government should protect us all," Barronelle Stutzman told legislators. "It should not force those who believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman to choose between their faith and their livelihood."

Republican Rep. Dick Jones says public opinion discourages lawmakers who are opposed to same sex marriage.

“Gay is strictly a sexual preference, it’s not a separate sex. Until we get the public to accept that fact, your desire to live in your Christian ethic is doomed,” Jones says.

Tom Witt, with the group Equality Kansas, says the hearing wasn’t fair because they didn’t hear from anyone critical of religious freedom legislation.

“This was called an informational briefing, but it was a one-sided attack on LGBT Kansans,” Witt says.

The chairwoman of the committee says they are not considering any specific religious freedom bills. Two years ago the Kansas House passed a religious freedom bill, but it failed in the Senate after opponents argued it would protect discrimination.