The Kansas state Senate president has killed – at least for now – legislation passed in the House that would have legalized discrimination against the LGBT community.
House Bill 2453, as drafted and passed by the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives this week, would give any individual, business, group, or government official the right to deny same-sex couples a host of basic goods, services, benefits, or employment – on the grounds of a conflicting “sincerely held religious belief.” Lawmakers in the state House approved the measure on Wednesday by a vote of 72-49.
The bill was widely expected to pass the state Senate, too, as Republicans outnumber Democrats 32-8 in that chamber. But Republican state Sen. Susan Wagle, the Senate’s president, poured cold water on its prospects Thursday night when she released a statement saying that a majority of her caucus opposed the bill’s potential green light to discriminate. On Friday, she reaffirmed that position.
“I believe that when you hire police officers or a fireman that they have no choice in who they serve,” Wagle said at a news conference Friday, according to the Wichita Eagle. “They serve anyone who’s vulnerable, any age, any race, any sexual orientation.”
Many organizations, including the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, criticized the bill saying it would strain employer/employee relations.
A Facebook page titled “Stop Kansas House Bill 2453” has netted more than 50,000 “likes” as of Friday evening.