[T]he sweep of Kansas’ statute is breathtaking. Any government employee is given explicit permission to discriminate against gay couples—not just county clerks and DMV employees, but literally anyone who works for the state of Kansas. If a gay couple calls the police, an officer may refuse to help them if interacting with a gay couple violates his religious principles. State hospitals can turn away gay couples at the door and deny them treatment with impunity. Gay couples can be banned from public parks, public pools, anything that operates under the aegis of the Kansas state government.The Kansas House passed it Wednesday, meaning it's on to the Kansas Senate, and it is impressive in its scope [PDF]. Public and private employees can both refuse "any service," quote, to gay Americans, so long as they claim it is because they oppose marriage equality, or civil unions, or "similar arrangements." The evidence required to prove such a claim is all but nonexistent, and individuals who file suit against private businesses for discrimination will be required to pay the business's legal fees if the business is found to be working within these impossibly broad new "rights."
At some point a great many of the same people who support these laws are going to look back on them as a humiliating, embarrassing episode, just as all other pro-discrimination supporters have eventually had to admit in order to be re-admitted to polite company. But that day isn't here yet, and in the parts of the nation where you can still assert "religious principles" for shooting a doctor or setting fire to a building and still have a good chunk of the population on your side, it still seems a long way off.