Friday, February 10, 2017

Kansas' Anti LGBT Laws Stop CA/KU Basketball Series


Cal Men's Basketball has ended talks with the Kansas Jayhawks about a potential future home-and-home series because of a California anti-discrimination law.

According to the Lawrence World-Journal, the law, which passed in 2015 and took effect Jan. 1 of this year, does not allow public colleges or universities to visit teams in other states if those statess have laws that allow discrimination against the LGBT community. Kansas has a "religious freedom" law that allows student groups to be discriminatory in their membership practices based on those groups' beliefs... in other words religious groups that ban gay students from joining.

It's not just Kansas, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has pointed out that Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee also have laws that are deemed discriminatory and therefore would be on the list of states that teams from California public universities and colleges would be prohibited from visiting.

The hoped-for series between UC-Berkeley and KU is the only athletics event that has been affected so far, according to KU officials. Larry Keating, special assistant to the KU athletics director, told the Journal-World Friday that there are no major sports games scheduled between KU and any California team, and if any games do come up, he said they would be the result of contracts that were signed before the law took effect.

But the California travel ban could have far-reaching implications for other kinds of travel, including academic conferences, government agency conferences etc..

A leading LGBT rights advocacy group in Kansas that opposed the law in the first place is now calling for its repeal, saying it was clear that the intent of the law was to discriminate against gays and lesbians. The Kansas bill passed by veto-proof margins last year: 30-8 in the Senate and 81-41 in the House. 

In a statement released to news outlets, Gov. Sam Brownback, who signed the bill last year and who might need a refreshed course on "irony" reaffirmed his support for the law, calling religious freedom, "a bedrock American principle and part of the essence of who we are as a people."

Equality Kansas announced this week that it has introduced a bill, Senate Bill 139, to repeal the campus religious freedom law and will be working to repeal other outdated and horrible laws still on the Kansas books such as the state's criminal sodomy statute, which makes sexual relations between people of the same sex a crime. (The U.S. Supreme Court struck down such laws nearly 14 years ago in a case involving a similar Texas statute.)

And the group has proposed bills and a constitutional amendment to repeal statutes and a 2005 constitutional provision that say the state will only recognize marriages between two people of opposite genders, even though the U.S. Supreme Court overturned those laws in 2015.

Thomas Witt, Executive Director of Equality Kansas: "[The laws are] null and void, but they're still used as justification to discriminate against LGBT communities and they need to go, I know people who've been charged with the unconstitutional same-sex sodomy statute,The charges are, of course, dropped. But there are people who think that since that statute is still on the books, law enforcement should still go ahead and arrest people on it, and it does happen occasionally. It's just legalized discrimination and it shouldn't be happening."

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