Kansas' anti-gay, denial of service bill, HB 2453, is another sign that the right wing and its hateful band of deviant decision-makers have a firm grip on the Republican Party. These mad elephants are not leaving the big tent anytime soon, unless the GOP’s silent majority makes them.
HB 2453 masquerades as a religious freedoms protection law that legalizes anti-gay discrimination in all forms. It gives individuals, businesses, government workers, churches and religiously-affiliated organization the right to deny services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods and privileges to LGBT people.
What are the implications? Via Christi Hospital, Kansas’s largest medical provider could withhold treatment to a critically injured gay couple at its level one trauma center, one of only three in the state. A private ambulance and transportation service like Pilots for Christ might refuse to transport LGBT patients. Both are religiously-affiliated medical entities. Police and fire departments could also refuse to answer a gay couple's 911 call. There are no provisions in this legislation that hold any organization accountable for denying life-saving treatment.
This is an anti-gay ghettoization bill, not an anti-gay segregation bill that some have called it. Segregation implies that LGBT people would have access to equal or lesser services. Not so in Kansas. The state has a high number of Christian owned and operated businesses, and in many rural communities, they are the only ones providing services. This bill sets the LGBT community apart. It isolates them, and will force them out of the state.
Late last week, Senate President Susan Wagle appeared to put the brakes on the bill, for now. But Kansas isn’t the only state working on anti-gay ghettoization laws. Idaho, Ohio and Mississippi Republican state lawmakers are discussing similar measures. Tennessee’s state senate will debate its "turn-the-gays-away" bill later this week, and last month Arizona’s House of Representatives passed its version 32 to 24. Arizona already has several anti-gay laws on the books, including a "no promo homo" bill that bans teachers from referring to LGBT people in a positive way or discussing same-sex relations when teaching about HIV and AIDS prevention.
Knights of Columbus, the Family Research Council and Heritage Action are three prominent organizations lobbying for these laws. Heritage Action has been particularly influential because it’s poised to funnel significant donations to Republican candidates this year. It has also been threatening incumbents with primary challenges if they don’t support its agenda.
Its time for the GOP’s silent majority to take action. They must stop ignoring the problem and leave the party in protest by registering as independent voters. If enough do so, the law of supply and demand
will kick in. Republicans will get the message and distance themselves from the
right wing. Going independent is also a morally responsible choice. Does one
really want to lend their name to an political party consumed with hate?