Look for outlandish proposals floated in the last legislative session in Kansas to resurface when state lawmakers convene in January.
We’d think legislators would be plenty busy trying to unravel a budget mess created by ill-advised income-tax cuts for wealthy Kansans that undermined state revenue. There’s more than enough work ahead on that front.
Indeed, with the fiscal woes and threat to state-funded services in mind, Kansans do not need to see time and money devoted to such fringe, right-wing public policy experiments as a so-called “religious freedom” bill — yet another example of cookie-cutter legislation proposed throughout the nation.
The bill — one of the more unwelcome, embarrassing pursuits of the 2014 session in Kansas — would have allowed businesses and government employees to deny services to same-sex couples on the basis of “religious freedom.”
It easily passed the House, but failed to gain traction in the Senate amid an understandable flood of phone calls and emails from angry Kansans.
While that was the appropriate fate for the mean-spirited notion, a recent court ruling likely will drive right-wing extremists to make another run at it, regardless of the fallout in again painting Kansans as intolerant.
A federal court recently struck down the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Gay couples have since been allowed to wed in the Sunflower State, which hasn’t settled well with folks on the far right.
Those proponents of such “religious freedom” legislation claim it’s a way to protect the rights of religious Kansans who object to same-sex marriage.
They’re wrong. It would be nothing more than state-sanctioned hate and discrimination, and as such warrants zero attention in the coming session.
Unless, of course, the focus turns to the state adding sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination law, one that now prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, religion, age and disability.
The time is right to expand Kansas’ anti-discrimination law as a way to counter the self-righteous maneuvering by ultraconservatives determined to single out a class of people.
But considering the current political makeup of the Legislature, such a sensible approach would be a long shot at best, unfortunately.