(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Exhorts State Senate To Stand Up For American Values By Voting Against Legislation

CHICAGO — Truth Wins Out today condemned the Kansas House of Representatives for passing a bill creating a special right for anti-gay citizens to discriminate against gays and lesbians. The text of the bill, which passed by a vote of 72-49, “would bar government sanctions when individuals, groups and businesses cite religious beliefs in refusing to recognize a marriage or civil union, or to provide goods, services, accommodations or employment benefits to a couple.” The Kansas bill and others like it arise from the reality that federal courts are likely to invalidate state same-sex marriage bans in the coming years, and seek to create a loophole allowing people to discriminate freely against gays and lesbians without repercussions. The bill now goes to the overwhelmingly Republican state Senate, but passage is uncertain, as even Kansas Senate Republicans are uncomfortable with the sheer anti-gay bias written into the legislation:

“The representatives who voted for this bill need to stop wasting Kansans’ time and taxpayer money on bills that simply aim to forestall the inevitable,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Measures like this, even if temporarily successful, will not hold up under constitutional scrutiny, and will be overturned. We encourage members of both parties in the Kansas state Senate to stand up in the face of fake claims of religious persecution and vote against this horrific bill.”

The Religious Right, having lost the battle to deny gays and lesbians full marriage rights, have shifted gears into claiming that every scenario in which they have to play by the same rules as everyone else is tantamount to persecution, and that their “religious freedom” is being infringed upon. While no judge or activist has ever argued that churches should be forced to perform weddings that go against their beliefs, anti-gay crusaders have widened their focus to proclaim that any instance of being forced to do business with gays and lesbians is a form of discrimination, even suggesting that providing services like baking cakes is a part of people’s “religious practice.”

Similar bills have been filed in Idaho and Tennessee, where equality supporters have dubbed it the “Turn Away The Gays” bill. The original sponsor, Brian Kelsey of Germantown, removed his name from the bill after outrage from both his own suburban constituents and Memphis residents and business owners who have provided services to Kelsey in the past. The bill, however, remains alive and could pass Tennessee’s GOP-dominated legislature. Idaho and Tennessee certainly will not be the last, as very conservative states will fight tooth and nail to stop the tide of history, and they believe that ginning up false claims about religious freedom and persecution is the way forward for their discriminatory movement.

“Full equality under the law for gays and lesbians is inevitable at this point,” said Truth Wins Out Associate Director Evan Hurst. “Legislators who entertain false claims of persecution and infringement of people’s religious liberties seem to have a false notion of religious freedom that never existed. One of the things that makes America great is our tendency to always move toward greater inclusion and less discrimination. Those who believe in giving religious conservatives special access to discriminate against people they don’t like should be ashamed of themselves.”

Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a non-profit organization that works to demolish the very foundation of anti-gay prejudice. Our philosophy is simple: We attack the underpinnings of homophobia by debunking harmful lies, discrediting hateful myths, and countering anti-gay organizations. By chipping away at the underlying ignorance that fuels anti-LGBT attitudes, we can ultimately win our fight for fairness and achieve full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people worldwide.