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Kansas: Republican senators back away from anti-gay bill

Measure would allow private businesses, public servants to refuse service for religious reasons

“I believe that when you hire police officers or a fireman that they have no choice in who they serve. They serve anyone who’s vulnerable, any age, any race, any sexual orientation,” says Kansas Republican Senate President Susan Wagle. Credit: khi.org (Mike Shields)

Kansas Republican senators are backing down on a bill that would effectively legalize discrimination against gay people, The Wichita Eagle reports. 

The bill, which was recently passed by the Kansas House of Representatives, would allow private businesses and public servants — including police and paramedics — to refuse service to people they suspected were involved in a same-sex relationship. Proponents say the bill is necessary to protect religious freedom.

After a flood of national attention, however, Kansas Republican senate leaders say the bill will not pass through the senate without major changes, including the removal of public servants from those allowed to refuse service.

“I believe that when you hire police officers or a fireman that they have no choice in who they serve. They serve anyone who’s vulnerable, any age, any race, any sexual orientation,” Republican Senate President Susan Wagle says.

The bill is one attempt to stem the tide of gay rights after a string of court decisions striking down gay-marriage bans in Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia have left Republicans scrambling.