EDITORIAL: Representatives should be mindful of all Kansans

For someone who has spent most of his life in Kansas’ small towns, I consider myself to be a fairly worldly person. I have friends all over the country and all over the world, many who grew up as Kansans and have branched out in all directions.

They, as I, are proud to represent the Sunflower State.

That is unless saddened and disenfranchised by the bigoted actions of its elected representatives who chose to side with discrimination over civil rights.

As summarized, “House Bill 2453, as amended, would create new law to prohibit an individual or religious entity from being required by any governmental entity to do anything with respect to activities identified in the bill, if contrary to an individual’s or religious entity’s sincerely held religious belief regarding sex or gender.”

Simply, it would allow the segregation, discrimination or refusal of services to anyone simply for their perceived sexual orientation. This bill is redundant in allowing businesses the right to refuse service to anyone, but makes a clear statement in defining homosexual and transgendered people as second-class citizens under the cloak of “religious freedom.”

Two of Osage County’s three representatives, Peggy Mast, Emporia, and Ken Corbet, Topeka, voted in favor of the law. Blaine Finch, Ottawa, sided in opposition of the bill.

Only Corbet offered comment when voting, joining 18 other representatives, stating, “One of the founding principles of our country, inscribed in the First Amendment, is the right of the people to be led by their conscience and follow their own deeply held religious convictions without fear of penalty or reprisal. Because of that, I vote yes on HB 2453.”

In that, Corbet has misconstrued the nature of the founding principle of the country – that early European settlers of this country came here to escape religious persecution from other religions.

This argument has been used both ways, but allowing same-sex marriage does nothing to affect how non-same sex couples are treated legally. Allowing segregation and discrimination toward same-sex couples has a clear effect on how those individuals are treated.

For the most part, we were all born here, we pay the same taxes, work the same jobs – whatever God put here, put all of us here.

And if religion is your reason for not accepting your fellow humans for who they are, please remember that these same books were once used to justify slavery, the inequality of women and worse.

In supporting this law, representatives have aligned themselves with what will someday be seen as the wrong side of history. This homophobia runs rampant in the Westboro Baptist Church, and is taken a step further by the criminalization of homosexuality in Russia, as well as its capital punishment in Uganda. Bigotry is a slippery slope, and we should be mindful of its extremes when starting down that path.

The House voted 76-42 in favor of HB 2453. The bill, however, was halted by cooler minds in the Senate. Had it passed, it would likely be tied up in litigation, only to be struck down, as similar state laws have been. Touted “freedom” would be boiled down to an unconstitutional waste of taxpayer time and money.

As Kansans, we deserve legislators who spend their time on bills that help Kansans, not hurt them.


The Osage County Herald-Chronicle

The official newspaper of Osage County; the cities of Burlingame, Carbondale, Lyndon, Melvern, Olivet, Osage City, Overbrook, Quenemo and Scranton; Burlingame USD 454, Lyndon USD 421, Marais des Cygnes Valley USD 456, Osage City USD 420 and Santa Fe Trail USD 434.

All content @1863-2016 Osage County Herald-Chronicle, unless otherwise stated.

Print edition published every Thursday.


Contact Us