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By The Reverend Published: February 14, 2014

Often here on the blog I have pointed out decisions made and laws passed in mostly southern states that seem to point in the direction of a new Confederacy forming. Add to all those southern state decisions and laws the fact that the federal Congress can barely function because of deep and unresolvable red state-blue state polarization.....and a simpleton blogger like me comes away with the idea that...just maybe...the "united" part of these United States may be permanently threatened.

Yes, our democracy is messy, and loud, and sometimes very angry sounding....but I must say, I haven't seen anything quite like the last 10 years or so, at least since the 1960's. The divisions are palpable and pervasive. The contempt barely contained. The bitterness building.

This won't help the situation.....

On Tuesday, the Kansas House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a measure designed to bring anti-gay segregation—under the guise of “religious liberty” to the already deep-red state.

The result will mark Kansas as the first state, though certainly not the last, to legalize segregation of gay and straight people in virtually every arena of life.

Under the guise of defending the right of religious conscience(?), Kansas conservatives have enthusiastically returned to the ugly segregationist days of our nation's past....

.....the new law will allow any individual, group, or private business to refuse to serve gay couples if “it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Private employers can continue to fire gay employees on account of their sexuality. Stores may deny gay couples goods and services because they are gay. Hotels can eject gay couples or deny them entry in the first place. Businesses that provide public accommodations—movie theaters, restaurants—can turn away gay couples at the door. And if a gay couple sues for discrimination, they won’t just lose; they’ll be forced to pay their opponent’s attorney’s fees.

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.

Think about that for a bit. Because some religious conservatives are offended by the thought of even having to tolerate the homosexual "others" in their midst, an entire state will make it legal to openly and unashamedly discriminate against one targeted group of our fellow U.S. citizens. My most vulgar of expletives fail to do justice here, so I'll refrain.

One thing seems clear, the days of bragging about how the American Way is "live and let live"......if not over, are on life support. What seems the most troubling to me is the notion that a citizen's religious conscience is more worthy of protection than the actual lives of citizens. Apparently, within social conservative circles, religious conscience and feelings trump freedom as defined in the Declaration....."all men are created equal."

Conservatives in the U.S. will never be forced to become gay....or have an abortion....or use contraception....and yet, those same conservatives are not content with their own freedom "from" such things. The very freedom of others to make those choices must also be outlawed.

But in the case of Kansas, the anti-choicers are taking it to a whole new level. By passing their new "religious conscience" state law, Kansas officials are awarding their conservative, religious conscience constituents the right to wage a social war against gay Americans in their state.

Yes, courts will undoubtedly get involved. But that will take time....and meanwhile, we'll be reading horror story after WTF-story out of Kansas detailing bitter and reprehensible acts of open discrimination against one, and only one, small demographic.

Conservatives love using the word "freedom." They spout it often. In the case of Kansas conservatives, that word has been hijacked to include 'freedom to discriminate against others who offend our religious consciences by being who they are.'

Expletive deleted.

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