Liberal “gay rights” advocates of are foaming-at-the-mouth furious over the passage of a bill by the Kansas House of Representatives that would permit discrimination against gay couples based on one’s religious beliefs and prohibit anti-discrimination lawsuits based on such activity.
Introduced on January 16, HB2453, “an act concerning religious freedoms with respect to marriage,” passed on February 12 by a vote of 72-49. Three Democrats joined the Republican majority in voting for the measure. Nineteen Republicans voted against the bill.
Section 1 of the bill reads:
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.
The bill defines a “religious entity” as “an organization, regardless of its nonprofit 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.”
The bill also contains this unusual provision:
If an individual employed by a governmental entity or other nonreligious 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.
Someone at the Daily Beast maintains that the “Kansas House of Representatives took a step back to the 1890s with a shameful bill that borrows from Jim Crow to legalize discrimination.” It is “meant to isolate and stigmatize a despised minority, under of the guise of some higher priority (‘religious liberty’).”
A professed “life-long believer who has read the Bible cover-to-cover more than once” at the Huffington Post believes that “Kansas House Bill 2453 is not only immoral, it’s unbiblical.”
At Politicususa, home of “real liberal politics,” a writer insists that “Republican fascists” in Kansas “are passing legislation to violate the Constitution and other Americans’ rights.” The consequence of this “to gay and straight people in Kansas is that every area of their lives will be controlled by religious bigots.”
My thoughts on the matter as a Christian and a libertarian are as follows.
1. The bill will never pass. The Republican president of the Kansas Senate, Susan Wagle, has issued a statement saying that “a majority of the Republicans in the upper house will not vote for the bill.” And of course, the Democratic minority is solidly against 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,” said Wagle. “However, my members also don’t condone discrimination,” she added.
2. In as much as the bill legalizes—if only in a small degree—the freedom to discriminate, such provisions in it should be welcomed.
3. Individuals employed by government agencies should quit if they can’t “provide a lawful service that is otherwise consistent with the entity’s duties or policies.”
4. A Christian’s acceptance of the Bible’s negative assessment of homosexuality does not necessarily preclude him from providing certain “services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services” or providing “employment or employment benefits” to gays or “other perverts.”
5. Same-sex or LGBT couples should be viewed by Christians the same as straight or regular couples who are not married when it comes to providing certain “services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services” or providing “employment or employment benefits.”
6. The bill doesn’t go far enough. It merely opens up a small window of freedom. Why limit legal discrimination to just providing something “related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement”? Why not expand it to include something “related to, or related to the celebration of,” any birthday, business activity, or change in the weather?
7. What not just say what you mean? Although the bill doesn’t mention homosexuality or LGBT individuals, it is perfectly clear that the purpose of the bill is to allow business owners to discriminate against homosexuals by refusing to provide them with a service that they would ordinarily provide to heterosexuals. Why not just come out and say that it shall henceforth be legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity?
8. There is no right to service. In a free society, every individual and business owner has the right to refuse service. It is part and parcel of the inviolability of private property, the freedom of assembly, the freedom of association, the freedom of contract, free enterprise, and the free market. In a free society, business owners, like homeowners, have the right to run their businesses as they choose, including the right to refuse service, and including the right to discriminate on any basis against anyone. I am speaking of a free society—a society that hasn’t existed in the United States for quite some time.
9. The freedom to discriminate doesn’t mean that discrimination will take place. This is the beauty of the free market. To take an extreme example, suppose someone decided to open “The Homophobic Café” and post a sign on the door that said “No LGBT Allowed.” This might result in a lack of business from not only LGBT individuals, but their families, friends, and unrelated sympathetic souls who deplore bigotry in any form. Then again, it might attract customers who were paranoid about eating in a restaurant with homosexuals. But even those who considered homosexuality to be a great sin might also stay away because of the extremists who might be attracted to the eatery. The success or failure of such a café should be decided by consumers in the restaurant market.
10. Kansas Republicans don’t have a clue what a free society really is. They have to cloak discrimination under the guise of religious freedom because they are scared of the word and misunderstand the concept. They would never pass legislation saying that businesses could discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, age, gender, height, weight, disability, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic status, political preference, religious piety, national origin, odor, or appearance. That is, they would never legalize freedom.
Discrimination means freedom. A free society includes the freedom to discriminate based on anything, not just religion, but a free society also includes the freedom to discriminate based on nothing. A free society includes the freedom to discriminate against all gays, not just gay couples, but a free society also includes the freedom to discriminate against anyone, not just gays. And a free society likewise includes the freedom to discriminate whether doing so is logical or illogical, reasonable or unreasonable, rational or irrational.