Joco Diversions

Emily Parnell — Just when you think “it can’t happen here,” somebody introduces legislation

Updated: 2014-02-19T03:27:45Z

By EMILY PARNELL

Special to The Star

Here’s my prediction: Marijuana will be legalized in the state of Kansas very, very soon. I base this on the fact that state lawmakers are quite obviously sitting around in Topeka smoking crack. This is the only explanation I can come up with to explain the “Religious Freedom” bill that’s been making its way through the Legislature.

The first headlines I read — proclaiming that the Kansas House had passed a bill legalizing discrimination against gays and lesbians — left me doing a double take. I tripped over their accompanying articles, repeatedly checking the source. This is real news? Not satire? I’m not reading The Onion right now?

The gist of the bill that’s on the table is that if you have “sincerely held religious beliefs” about marriage, you have the right to refuse services to people who do not comply with your beliefs.

Rep. Charles Macheers, a Republican from Shawnee, explains that what this bill legalizing discrimination is supposedly doing is preventing discrimination. He says, “Discrimination is horrible. It’s hurtful. … It has no place in civilized society, and that’s precisely why we’re moving this bill. There have been times throughout history where people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs because they were unpopular. This bill provides a shield of protection for that.”

Now, that’s rich. If my kids tried to argue with that kind of illogic, I wouldn’t even humor them with a “good try.”

I have a joke for you.

So, a newly engaged gay couple walks into a bar and orders a celebratory bottle of champagne. The bartender says, “I don’t serve gays in this bar, I have a sincere belief against homosexuality and to serve you would damage my sense of decency. And since we’re in Kansas, I win!”

Did you laugh? I didn’t.

If you happen to be gay, don’t worry. They swear it’s not aimed at you. It’s simply supporting devout fundamentalists.

If you happen to be a conservative Christian who’s vehemently opposed to gay marriage, and you’re thinking, “Yay me!” keep thinking.

There are lots of religions out there with all kinds of beliefs, and I guarantee, they don’t all believe exactly like you do. In a country with freedom of religion, where we can sincerely believe anything we want to (e.g., Jim Jones, David Koresh), is there wisdom in taking extra measures to protect our religious rights of discrimination and bigotry?

We are already legally free to speak out, call each other immoral and hurt feelings. That’s all bad and hurtful enough, but now they want to withhold wedding cake? That’s cold. I’m serious about my pastries, and I’m even more serious about treating humans with respect and kindness.

Are Kansas lawmakers fixin’ to roll out the welcome mat for religiously motivated terrorists, and pat good old Westboro on the back? Oh, pshaw, they wouldn’t do that. No more than they would bring back civil rights travesties of post-Civil-War America. They’d have to be smoking…Oh, wait…

This embarrassment is shining new light on the phrase, “Get the H-E-Double Hockey sticks out of Dodge.” Whether or not it passes (and thankfully, it’s looking like it won’t), this is national news painting Kansans, and also Christians, as bigots, and I’m ashamed. That’s not my brand of Christianity, and it’s not my brand of American, either.

Freelancer Emily Parnell writes for Diversions each week.

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