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Kansas House Committee Holds Hearing on Religious Freedom Legislation

Stutzman speaking to the committee. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

A florist from Washington state asked Kansas lawmakers Wednesday to consider so-called religious freedom legislation. The idea is that a law could protect people who are opposed to same-sex marriage on religious grounds. Barronelle Stutzman says she was sued after refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding ceremony.


“The government should protect us all. It should not force those who believe that marriage is a union of a man and a woman to choose between their faith and their livelihood,” says Stutzman.
 
The comments came at a Federal and State Affairs Committee informational hearing. Tom Witt, with the group Equality Kansas, says the hearing was one-sided because it didn’t include anyone opposed to religious freedom legislation.
 
The committee isn’t considering any specific bills. Two years ago the Kansas House passed a religious freedom bill, but it failed in the Senate after opponents argued it would protect discrimination.

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(VERSION TWO)

So-called religious freedom legislation and same-sex marriage were the talk of a Kansas Statehouse committee Wednesday. The idea behind religious freedom legislation is that it could protect people who are opposed to same-sex marriage on religious grounds. KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports.


(SCRIPT)
A Washington state florist who was sued for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding urged Kansas lawmakers to protect businesses like hers.

Republican Representative Dick Jones says public opinion discourages lawmakers who are opposed to same-sex marriage.
 
“Gay is strictly a sexual preference, it’s not a separate sex. Until we get the public to accept that fact, your desire to live in your Christian ethic is doomed,” says Jones.
 
Tom Witt, with the group Equality Kansas, says the hearing wasn’t fair because they didn’t hear from anyone critical of religious freedom legislation.
 
“This was called an informational briefing, but it was a one-sided attack on LGBT Kansans,” says Witt.
 
The chairwoman of the committee says they are not considering any specific religious freedom bills.

 

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