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House Bill 2453 receives criticism from campus

House Bill 2453 was removed almost as quickly as it became an issue.

The bill, passed by the Kansas House of Representatives on Feb. 12, allowed individuals and religious entities the right to deny service to a customer based on his or her sexual orientation.

“No individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender,” the bill said.

“The following” in the bill were services that ranged from solemnizing marriage to adoption. For example, if a cake shop was asked to make a cake for a wedding, and then found out later that the customer was homosexual, the owner of that shop could deny that customer cake.

“In my view, if a person comes to you and says, ‘Hey, I want a wedding cake,’ (and you deny them that), then you’re losing business. You’re not being economically sensible,” said John Barnett, associate professor of political science.

Phrases such as “sincerely held religious belief” are left to the reader’s interpretation.  According to Barnett, it violates the civil rights of 1964.

“It’s a discrimination issue,” Barnett said. “It’s just a blatant violation of rights.”

Racheal Countryman, Associated Student Government president and senior communication major, said ASG first heard about the bill on Feb. 11. They had gone to Topeka to advocate for higher education funding.

“At that time a few of the university workers who were participating in that event, actually got to see some of the discussion by the House,” Countryman said.

When ASG received information that this bill went through the House, steps were taken in case the bill was passed.

“I know that there would have at least been some senators and staff who were interested in writing a resolution in opposition to the House Bill,” Countryman said. “They would have actually written the bill, that bill would have passed through committee first… If it passed in committee then it could be presented at our general student senate meeting. Had it passed through our general senate meeting then it would be a resolution that would go down in the books in our legislative summary, and that would have been passed on to our president,” Countryman said.

The bill did not pass through the Senate as of last week.

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