Or here is part of the bill itself:
“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:
“Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement.”
Thankfully for great critical thinking skills, a great social media campaign against House Bill 2453, and/or great open minds, the Kansas Senate has no interest in bringing the bill, as it stands, forward (here you go for another article).
Still, this last week has been fascinating. Sure, the bill is absolutely terrible in my mind, and the lives it could have hurt are uncountable. Who knows the damage it has done already to those uncomfortable with being LGBT and seeing a bill passed by Kansas elected officials to make them feel basically like second-class citizens? All I can say to them is to echo Dan Savage with it gets better, and it definitely is going to do just that.
For those who know me well, you know that Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning is one of my favorite books (If you haven’t read it, do so. For less than $10, you can have a book that can change your life). One of his big points is to find meaning through the suffering, and I have taken this to heart, so my looking at the bill is probably slightly different from many others.
While I stayed up to date with news as I always do, I paid especially close attention to the comments. The mass majority of them were against the bill. Ten years ago, I don’t think that would have been the case. To quote Bob Dylan, “[t]he times they are a-changin.” There is no doubt at all about that.
One of the last times Kansas made international news in a not so positive way was with the 2005 Kansas State Board of Education’s decision to allow the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution. While many jokes were made about Kansas, what came from the laughter was none other than the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which has impacted so many lives since then and brought genuine smiles to people’s faces with his touches from his noodly appendage.
So even through that craziness of Kansas, something extremely nifty came from it. I have a feeling the same thing is going to happen with House Bill 2453.
House Bill 2453 never should have made it to the floor, and it never should have passed (At this time, I would like to thank my Congressman Steve Becker for voting against it). However, it did and proved many things about how some feel about LGBT (US Supreme Court, the Kansas Congress has given you HB 2453 with, umm, love). So that is in the past, but what is in the future?
Well, for starters, there is a mid-term election in November and primaries in August. There are also a lot of angry people out there for what their representatives have done. Just a quick look on Facebook shows that. If this momentum continues, it is going to be a very interesting election season, and if those people who were against House Bill 2453 get out to vote and get others to do so, they more than likely will not be voting for Governor Brownback either. If the Moderates and Democrats have great candidates in all races and play their cards right, some massive changes may be happening for the Sunflower State because of the passing of this bill. It wouldn’t be the first time something anti-gay turned out to have very unexpected results.
One thing I noticed in quite a few of the comments in the articles from throughout the nation were people talking about either their leaving Kansas or wanting to leave Kansas because of feelings conveyed in the same spirit of House Bill 2453. To all of you, I say either come back or stay. Make Kansas your home because (you had to know this was coming given the topic) there is no place like home, and there is no place like Kansas.
Arguably speaking, Kansas started the Civil War and sent the victory towards the North from the very beginning. We were the first state to ban the Klu Klux Klan. Brown vs the Board of Education which ended segregation in public schools – yep that happened here too. Even the first female to ever serve as mayor and first woman to ever be elected to any political office in the States was here in Kansas. These are just a few of the absolutely amazing things Kansas has done in the past. I have full faith in a very bright future ahead for us too.
While some may argue otherwise, Kansas really is a land of enchantment. The tallgrass prairies of the Flint Hills are like none other regardless of the season. The fires, the green grass after the rain, the flowers, and rolling hills are all stunning. Stargazing at Coronado Heights in the Smoky Hills can take one’s breath away. The same for a sunset there as well. Really, actually, that goes for a sunset any place in this state. We are famous for them, and after seeing one in person, it is easy to see why. The same goes for our sunrises too.
Then there are the Kansas towns. So many of them are filled with some quirky but extremely neat things. Just take a drive off the Interstate and visit these small towns of the Great Plains. Have some tasty food at the hometown diner, talk to the locals, and explore what neat thing the town has as its claim to fame (pretty much every town in Kansas seems to have something). We even have the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, which now that I think about it, sort of reminds me of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
All quirk aside, the towns’ most precious treasures are not the tourist attractions but rather the people. We have so many just simply good people in this state who would do anything in the world for another. The conversations, the smiles, the caring, and the genuine interest in the betterment of each other are all there in the people I have been so fortunate to have either met briefly or become part of my life.
Kansas is really a fantastic place, and there is something in this piece of the heartland that runs deep and brings about greatness. Sure, the method, like this recent situation with House Bill 2453, is not always pretty, but the outcome tends to be fantastic and not just life-changing but country- and sometimes world-changing. One just has to have faith it is going to happen again because history is on the side it will. Plus, it is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy thanks to the picking of “Ad Aspera per Astra” as our state’s motto back in 1861.
For that reason and for so many more, I am, even after this latest embarrassment, proud to be a Kansan and proud to have the spirit of Kansas running through my veins. Pretty much everyone remembers that Dorothy and Toto were from this state, but so was Superman and so were, are, and will be so many super men and women who have the vitality of Kansas within them and the desire to bring about great and wonderful change that truly represents the splendor of this home on the range.