How far are religious zealots prepared to go in expressing their hate for the LGBT community?
How about all the way back to the segregated South of 60 years ago?
Last week, the Republican-dominated Kansas House of Representatives passed legislation that would effectively impose segregation on the state’s public accommodations.
Instead of African-Americans, however, the new law targets gay and lesbian couples.
It will be recalled that Adolph Hitler did something very similar in the early 1930s when he codified discrimination against Jews in Germany.
As reported by Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, “(T)he new law will allow any individual, group, or private business to refuse to serve gay couples if ‘it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.’
“Private employers can continue to fire gay employees on account of their sexuality. Stores may deny gay couples goods and services because they are gay. Hotels can eject gay couples or deny them entry in the first place. Businesses that provide public accommodations…can turn away gay couples at the door.”
Reading that last sentence, I couldn’t help but think of former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox chasing black people away from his Pickrick restaurant with axe handles and guns in 1964 under the guise of “freedom.”
Speaking of governors, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a proud conservative Christian who, unlike Jesus Christ, hates gay people, thinks the proposed law is just swell.
"Americans have constitutional rights, among them the right to exercise their religious beliefs and the right for every human life to be treated with respect and dignity," Brownback told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Evidently, in Brownback’s book, gays and lesbians aren't worthy of respect and dignity.
“And if a gay couple sues for discrimination,” adds Slate’s Stern, “they won’t just lose; they’ll be forced to pay their opponent’s attorney’s fees.”
The Kansas law also allows any government employee such as a motor vehicle clerk or police officer to refuse service or assistance to gay people if they feel interacting with a gay person violates their religious beliefs.
“(The law) is a blatant attempt to maintain second-class citizen status for taxpaying gay and lesbian Kansans." said Sandra Meade of Equality Kansas.
No doubt Republican legislators in other states who despise the LGBT community are eagerly watching how the Kansas legislation unfolds.
Thankfully, this bigoted, misbegotten bill may be D.O.A. when it reaches the Kansas Senate.
Republican Senate President Susan Wagle said late last week, “My members also don’t condone discrimination. If we cannot find ample common ground to ease legitimate concerns, I believe a majority of my caucus will not support the bill.”