Joco Opinion

Bad leadership from legislators on same-sex bill

Kansas Statehouse house of representatives was partially restored in 1998 with completion in 2008 (January 22, 2014)
Kansas Statehouse house of representatives was partially restored in 1998 with completion in 2008 (January 22, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

In a shameful show of bigotry, three Kansas House members from Johnson County were at the epicenter of last week’s furor over a bill that would allow discrimination against same-sex couples.

The House approved the measure, quickly drawing national scorn, for good reasons. Senate President Susan Wagle said she would not try to pass it in the Senate in that form. Let’s hope that leads to the death of the bill.

The three Johnson County Republicans who participated in this charade under the guise of protecting “religious freedoms” were:

• House Speaker Ray Merrick of Stilwell, who allowed the bill to come to the floor.

• Rep. Charles Macheers of Shawnee, who championed the measure during debate.

• Rep. Lance Kinzer of Olathe, who told colleagues that businesses weren’t concerned about what the bill would require of them.

But Kinzer was wrong. Businesses statewide blasted the legislation.

AT&T Kansas president Steve Hahn made it clear that, no matter what the GOP members claimed, “The bill promotes discriminatory behavior by businesses against their customers, and it interferes with AT&T's management of our employees.”

Merrick, Macheers and Kinzer embarrassed Johnson County with their performances on this measure. After-the-fact contentions that it was just to support religious freedoms overlooked how the bill would work in the real world.

Merrick deserves the most blame, given his position of authority. Johnson Countians — and the rest of Kansas — deserved better.

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