Opinion Columns & Blogs

At least Kansas avoided Indiana’s meltdown, for now

Thousands of opponents of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act gathered on the lawn of the Indiana State House.
Thousands of opponents of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act gathered on the lawn of the Indiana State House. AP

Given the backlash Indiana is receiving regarding its new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Kansans should be grateful that Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, helped quash a bill in the Legislature last year aimed at expanding religious protections. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence defended his state’s law in a commentary in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, arguing that the bill protects religious liberties and “is not a license to discriminate.” Many groups and businesses, including the NCAA, disagree. A front-page editorial in the Indianapolis Star urged Pence and state lawmakers to “fix this now” by passing a law prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Pence seems open to such action. Though Wagle and other Senate leaders intervened last year to block a “right to refuse” service bill, Kansas took a step backward this year when Gov. Sam Brownback rescinded anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender state workers, and then state lawmakers refused to restore those protections. The Kansas Senate also passed a bill aimed at protecting student religious groups at public universities; critics contend it would allow public funding of discrimination. – Phillip Brownlee

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