Andrew Sullivan on Kansas and What Just Happened

I’m still trying to understand what just happened in Kansas, which just passed a law that reads like something from the 1960s, just instead of it being about race and racial discrimination, it’s about discrimination against gays and lesbians. It’s so comprehensive that it extends to people who support marriage equality and gay rights:

The law empowers any individual or business to refuse to interact with, do business with, or in any way come into contact with anyone who may have some connection to a gay civil union, or civil marriage or … well any “similar arrangement” (room-mates?). It gives the full backing of the law to any restaurant or bar-owner who puts up a sign that says “No Gays Served”. It empowers employees of the state government to refuse to interact with gay citizens as a group. Its scope is vast: it allows anyone to refuse to provide “services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits” to anyone suspected of being complicit in celebrating or enabling the commitment of any kind of a gay couple.

The ramifications are daunting, and as Andrew Sullivan aptly notes, it’s straight out of the Jim Crow play book, which I thought we’d put into the historical archives department of the world under the label Horrible Historical Documents that Should Never Be Emulated But are Preserved to Remind Us of How Inhuman We Can Be. The last part is particularly alarming. I have friends who are gay who just got engaged. I’m over the moon for them; they embody the kind of loving, supportive, caring relationship we want all committed relationships to be. Under this law, someone would be able to be deny me services and perhaps employment for supporting my friends. It’s an extreme reading of the law to be sure, but I don’t think any law can tell me whose wedding I get to attend. Read all of Sullivan’s piece. It’s worth the time.


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