Kansas state lawmaker Emily Perry (D-Mission) spoke out this week against a Republican-sponsored bill moving through the legislature that would allow discrimination against same-sex couples on the basis of religious beliefs.
"To me it really talks to the fact that an employer or even a governmental entity ... could not provide services," Perry said on HuffPost Live. She raised an example of a police officer arriving at the scene of a domestic violence complaint involving a gay couple. "We don't want these public servants to be able to arrive at the scene of the crime, and decide that because of their religious beliefs, they don't want to offer services," she said.
House Bill 2453 is vaguely worded, but it does give public and private workers the right to deny services, like adoption and unemployment benefits, to same-sex couples.
Last Thursday, the bill was the focus of a heated debate between Democrats and Republicans. It eventually passed the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs and will move to the floor for a vote.
Kansas has consistently taken a stand against LGBT rights. House Bill 2453 was drafted in response to federal courts overturning same-sex marriage bans in other states. Although Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has yet to read the language of the bill, he is a well-known supporter of religious liberty.
That history could push LGBT individuals out of the state altogether, Perry warned.
"I think that's definitely a risk. I have dear friends in the gay and lesbian community, and they're hurt by this," she said. "It does make them want to leave, because they don't see any way for these legislators to change their minds. And that may be possible."