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 Sam Brownback rescinded anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender state workers, and then state lawmakers refused to restore those protections.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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