The Kansas Senate decided on Friday that they would kill the legislation that was passed earlier this week by the state’s House of Representatives. The bill, known as House Bill 2453, would have opened the door to widespread segregation and discrimination of those in the LGBT community. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives, which is overwhelmingly Republican, passed the bill with ease by a vote of 72-49. It was assumed that with a large majority in the state’s Senate and the extremely conservative Sam Brownback as Governor, the legislation was going to fly through and become law.
Well, something happened along the way. Perhaps it was the fact that the law made national headlines and had a lot of blowback. Or maybe it was due to what Andrew Sullivan wrote on Friday regarding what the law would do for the LGBT community. In his column, Sullivan accurately noted that passing a law that so blatantly discriminates gays and treats them like second-class citizens would inevitably be the death knell for the religious right in its attempt to prevent the advancement of gay rights.
Basically, by going forward with this, the gay community could rightly point to this law and compare it to the Jim Crow laws of the South. It also would have an avalanche effect on the GOP, as young voters would be turned off by them for good due to their penchant for bigotry. Sullivan nailed it with the following paragraph:
If the Republican Party wanted to demonstrate that it wants no votes from anyone under 40, it couldn’t have found a better way to do it. Some critics have reacted to this law with the view that it is an outrageous new version of Jim Crow and a terrifying portent of the future for gays in some red states. It is both of those. It’s the kind of law that Vladimir Putin would enthusiastically support. But it is also, to my mind, a fatal mis-step for the movement to keep gay citizens in a marginalized, stigmatized place.
Somebody got a hold of the Kansas Senate President, Republican Sen. Susan Wagle, and told her that this would kill the party nationally if they went through with it. Seeing that the GOP controls the Senate 32-8, and knowing full well that an ultra-religious fanatic like Brownback would sign this bill as soon as he could, this had to be stopped while still in the Senate. If this would have carried forward, the negative impact on the national party would have been felt for years, if not decades.
One heartening thing about this whole fiasco is it showed that even a very conservative state like Kansas has its limits. Conservative organizations like the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas Employers for Liberty Coalition urged the Senate not to pass this bill, as it would cause all kinds of problems down the road for businesses. People in Kansas were taking to social media and expressing their displeasure with the bill. Overall, it was made apparent to the state’s Republican lawmakers that they had made a drastic overreach with this bill and better pump the brakes before they completely destroyed themselves politically.
Now, this isn’t to say that the state’s Congress isn’t going to revisit this and see if there is away they can still try to protect ‘religious liberty’ while finding a way to offend and discriminate against gays. They just have to try to find a way that isn’t so blatantly obvious that a 4-year old would know what their intent is.