Must a bakery sell a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony? Must a rental-car company lend the couple a car for their honeymoon? Should a clerk have to sign a marriage license she morally opposes? On Feb. 12, the Kansas house voted 72-49 to pass a bill protecting private-sector and government employees from lawsuits if they refuse service to same-sex couples for religious reasons. The measure now goes to the state’s GOP-controlled senate.
At least seven similar proposals are being considered in six other states. They follow the high-profile case of Jack Phillips, a Colorado bakery owner who is appealing a discrimination ruling by an administrative law judge after refusing to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. “Everybody knows that the First Amendment protects you from having to violate your conscience,” says his lawyer Nicolle Miller.
The Kansas bill’s backer, state representative Charles Macheers, argued that “unpopular” beliefs deserve protection “even as society changes.” Opponents suggested the measure is itself immoral. “What religion,” Republican state representative Barbara Bollier asked, “advocates to not serve others?”