Friday, February 14, 2014

The pain of loving Kansas


I love Kansas. And the past couple of days that has been a painful thing to do.

I moved here in 6th grade, after years of moving around the county and world as an Army brat. At first I wasn’t excited about Kansas. I didn’t understand it. I knew as much about it as anyone else who makes the mind-numbing Wizard of Oz jokes. It was flat and boring. At a least a day’s drive to anywhere good.

Years went by and Kansas was where I remained. And slowly I began to appreciate it without realizing it. The vast and rolling (yes there are hills in Kansas) landscapes began to grow on me. The people were nice and fun. And they didn’t all drive tractors and wear overalls. And when you did pass a tractor or pickup on a gravel road, you exchanged finger waves. It’s how we say “Hi”. And if you get a flat tire on one of those roads where it seems like there isn’t anyone around for miles, you can be guaranteed that within 15 minutes a nice person- a Kansan- will stop and help you out.  And when I do want to get on a plane and visit the ocean, it only takes me three hours. Some may think we are in the middle of nowhere, but really we’re in the middle of everything.

And unfortunately, we are now in the middle of this horrible and hateful war on people. People. Fellow Kansans. Our neighbors and friends, sons and daughters. The people we see in restaurants. They are doctors, lawyers, middle managers, sanitation workers and teachers. They are Kansans. They drive on our streets and pay their taxes. They, like us, choose to live in a place with under-appreciated landscapes and a misunderstood way of life. Sure we are prone to look down on each other depending on whether they are a K-State Wildcat or KU Jayhawk (ROCK CHALK!). But if I’m in NYC or California and I see someone with a K-State shirt on, I claim them. Happily. They are a Kansan. Like me. And that is who this war is against. Not just the LGBT community. But Kansans. All Kansans.
 
Our state government has been taken over by extremists. They are not moderate Kansans. They, dare I say, are not even Kansans. Their drivers licenses may say Kansas. But they aren’t Kansans. If they were,  they wouldn’t take away the services that help our mentally disabled. They wouldn’t take away the social services that help the children of our great State. They wouldn’t pass and implement tax laws that don’t make any sense and place burdens on the backs of everyday Kansans that will soon be unbearable. They wouldn’t pass laws that say because “you don’t live  and believe like I do”, I will no longer serve you – in a restaurant or as a citizen. They wouldn’t be hurting Kansans. They’d be helping them.

Kansas gets enough grief from people outside of the state that don’t understand us. We all get asked “where’s Toto?”. But we can handle those asinine “flat as a pancake” and “you’re not in Kansas anymore” comments because those who say them don’t understand Kansas. They don’t understand the beauty of the Flint Hills or the unmitigated joy one gets in cheering on the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse. They don’t understand how great Free State Beer is and how good Yoder cinnamon rolls are. So, we forgive them, because they don’t get it.

But what we can’t forgive is the hatefulness that our elected officials are directing to the Kansans they are supposed to serve. If allowed to continue, the damage they are doing to Kansas will be incalculable.  We just won’t be the laughing stock of this country, we’ll be a cautionary tale. We won’t just lose fellow Kansans, who can’t in good conscience continue to raise their families in our state, but we’ll lose people who decided not move their businesses here. Why would they? They wouldn’t want to move their businesses to a state that has an underfunded education system and doesn’t value all of their citizenry. And what prospective employees would want to move somewhere that questions basic science and doesn’t understand the importance of separation of church and state.

Kansas was established in 1861 because we needed a place- a refuge- for people who believed in freedom for all. We built schools and libraries because we knew the importance of learning about things we didn’t understand.

These misguided extremists cannot have our state. It’s not theirs. It’s ours.

130 comments:

  1. Heather,
    I bet you live in Lawrence. I did too for 20+ yrs. I even created a music school there, and raised a handicapped son their (and he still lives there), but extremists are the reason I left. In fact, they are everywhere in Kansas except Lawrence... It cannot change because, Lawrence is the minority... It's why I left...

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    1. Plenty of good open-minded and reasonable people in Wichita too.

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    2. I'm currently in Lawrence, but come from western Kansas and still have a lot of friends and family back there. It's changing, everywhere. Even some of the conservative old farmers are tired of this crap. Like everyone else, they've discovered that they have someone who is gay in their life. Maybe a child, grandchild, or friend. Or their children went off to the big city, and made gay friends, whom their parents have got to know when visiting. And that's changing them. Just as it's changed so many others in the world.

      So not only can it change, but it is. These bills are a death spasm of the extremists who are slowly losing their grip and moving into the minority. These bills exist now because a few years ago they didn't need to. The extreme homophobes were confident they were the majority. Now they aren't.

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    3. That's a misconception. Sure, Lawrence probably has fewer extremists per capita than anywhere else in the state, but in my experience living in Wichita, southwest Kansas, and now Lawrence, extremists are in the minority everywhere. That's why it's a shame that they are allowed to dictate who we are as a state.

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    4. I live in Lawrence, and I love it. However, I don't think it's fair to say Lawrence is the exception. As Kansans, we are all under attack. I have a surprising amount of friends and relatives who identify as conservative, and are outraged by the current administration and their minions in the Legislature. Davis needs to get to work because he has a genuine opportunity, but not if he doesn't get his name out there and let people know they have a moderate choice!

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    5. By saying Lawrence is the only place extremists aren't - you are judging and discriminating just like the people you are complaining about and claim you left Kansas because.

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    6. The only action we can take is to vote out these whackos. It's hard because western Kansas is so conservative and we'll never change much of that mindset. However, the Governor is a state wide election, and if we had a Democrat at the top spot, it would alleviate a lot of this nonsense!

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    7. How stupid... there are plenty of places in Kansas that are like lawrence, especially in johnson county! What you said isn't helping, its actually very stupid and rediculous1

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    8. You summed everything up beautifully! Thank you for articulating exactly how I feel as a Kansasan.

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    9. If you folks can read this once and then immediately start arguing about which city is best, maybe you should read it another time.

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    10. Sounds like a good time for moral people to move into the state...let the others move out and keep the great state of Kansas one that is built on morals and principals. Go KU!

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    11. I live in Overland Park (and grew up in Johnson County) and I wholeheartedly agree with everything you wrote in this essay. It's time to take back our great state from those who have hijacked it!

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    12. It isn't just Kansas - It's a national epidemic - these Numbskull politicians everywhere are taking away ou freedoms - VOTE ALL OF THEM OUT!!! What happen to"FOR THE PEOPLE AND WITH THE PEOLPLE are NO LONGER REPRESENTED

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    13. Vote in the primary. So many people are "on vacation" and use that for an excuse NOT to VOTE.

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    14. Especially in Johnson County? You've gotta be kidding me! JoCo is one of the most Conservative counties in the state. To say otherwise is as ill-informed as that spelling of 'ridiculous'.

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    15. Yes, VOTE! The extremists most assuredly will. The polling place is their last great battlefield. If you are not registered to vote DO IT NOW! If you've never registered before it will be a supreme hassle because of Kris Kobach (who knew all the "good" Republicans were already registered and turning out at every election). Please don't let the momentum of this HB 2453 issue die, Vote! Campaign! Fight back!

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    16. I'm in total agreement and I'm stuck for the most part in Topeka -- not far from the "compound" of the cult which shall remain nameless which is another blight on Kansas. We have such a rich history of not allowing enslavement, stopping segregation of schools and so much history of free-thinkers that I'm constantly aggravated about what is being portrayed by those who are in power. They aren't speaking for me -- they do not know what a majority of their voting base want or need. If we want and need a change than we need to do so in the next election. Hopefully this tide will turn!

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    17. I live in Liberal and we are very opposite of our name. Some take pride in that and some don't. We got our name because a man gave travelers free water when they passed through. We have quite a few gays and lesbians and a few are my friends. We lost the business of iHop because the city commissioners don't want it to take away business from our special pancake house. Maybe we need the competition? Maybe we need some open minded people to step up and change how things run? But I feel like the same extremists that control our state are running this town. its wrong for the school broad to force a young man, who's going through a sex change, to use the men's bathroom and ignore the bullying done to, well, her. I know there's plenty of small towns in Kansas like liberal, I've visited them all. Its a constant struggle in every town or city in Kansas, one that is a different story. One day it'll take a slap to the face for people to change and realize their mistake but until then people just need to wait. You can make change happen quicker by getting involved and putting up an fight or you can move away and enjoy your life in a different state or country.

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    18. Thank you for this statement. I live in the southeast corner of Kansas and I too am ashamed to claim our current state lawmakers. If our family farm was not at stake, I would have been gone by now.

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    19. I live in the very southeastern corner of Kansas (Columbus. From an even smaller town, Scammon). How dare you get to claim that only Lawrence is a non-extremist city in the state of Kansas. While Columbus itself is collapsing...it's not because we discriminate against gay people, or any other type of people-it's more because of city council stupidity, and very, very poor city management. For you to sit there and accuse my family of being someone who accepts the ridiculousness of the bill proposed-and since shot down (thank God) is incredibly rude, and untrue. I personally have a very dear friend who is bi-sexual, he is also from this area of Kansas. There are several people in this town who have very personal ties to LGBT people. Sons, daughters, close family friends, grand kids, etc.... We all love them dearly. We do not live in, or come from Lawrence, KS. So please excuse yourself from referring to Lawrence, KS as the only fully welcoming city in this state. If that's really how you feel, you're just as big a part of the problem.

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  2. Wonderful article, Heather! Thank you for writing it. To Anonymous above me I'd say yes, there are extremists everywhere, but there are also good people everywhere in Kansas. I'm not from, nor do I live in Lawrence and I've known people who agree with you and I and Heather everywhere I've lived in Kansas (which I have for more than 40 years....my family has been on the same land for more than 130 years). The answer isn't to leave like you did. That only servers to lower the number of good people living here and gives it over to others. People who love this state stay and fight. We are making progress, just slowly. That was proven by this week where thousands of good Kansans stood together to make a difference, and they weren't all from Lawrence. Rock Chalk, btw.

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  3. Kare,
    Thanks! I agree that there are Kansans all over the state that aren't happy about what is going on. Aside from a brief 7-month sojourn to Louisiana, I've lived in Kansas for the past 28 years. And whether in Kansas or Manhattan, I think you'll find people - no matter their political persuasion- that are able to live peacefully and respectfully next door to people who believe differently. Rock Chalk!
    Heather

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    1. Being from Manhattan Kansas I was confused by this comment...Kansas or Manhattan? Typical Jayhawk fans! LOL! EMAW

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    2. HA! Meant Lawrence or Manhattan (where I graduated from MHS! Go Indians!). Freudian slip perhaps? Glad you like what I wrote.

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    3. Very well written and I completely agree with everything in it!

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  4. I live in Wichita and I don't know anyone who actually wants this hateful bill to pass. We are better than our leadership. We have to vote. I know far too many people who say they don't vote because it doesn't matter. It does matter. This is the kind of thing we get when we don't stand up and speak out.

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  5. Thank you for writing this, I too have struggled this week. I was born and raised in KS, have always lived here and graduated from ESU.

    I feel I was raised with a strong and good moral compass. I know the difference between right and wrong, being responsible and how to be accepting of others, not discriminating against others and being humble, as well as many other morals and values. Now, I cannot say I have never struggled with some in my life, but those struggles had nothing to do with the actual person, but of choices they had made or their actions. I have always been willing to forgive, to give another chance; though the idiom fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me has been a guide. I inherently believe in the good of people, of mankind, which makes me to some, seem naïve. I really do believe in goodness, no matter your religious or non-religious preference.

    Question, what term will be given to the people that hate the LBGT community and lifestyle. Hitler’s reign produced Antisemitism. Our society had a hatred and discriminatory attitude toward blacks, and unfortunately some still do. Why are we repeating history by singling out a specific group of people to discriminate against. Could someone remind me of what year it is, please?

    I understand the right to religious freedoms, there are four major/large sized religions and ten other medium sized religions, and even more smaller religions, all different from the next with differing beliefs. I would place a bet that most religions want people to love one another. The naïve side of me has always thought the most important rule to follow is the golden rule, do unto others as you would have done unto you. You do not have to like anything about a persons' personality, looks, intellect, choices or life they live, or anything about them at all, but what we should all do is love one another.

    Thanks again for a good read & it's refreshing to know there are many of us banded together against hate.

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  6. You captured my thoughts and pain exactly. You brought tears to my eyes while giving me a glimmer of hope that I don't have to leave to live peaceably next to my neighbors who fly university flags of every color and mascot, vote all over the docket, and believe that people are inherently good. Thank you for the reminder.

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  7. I too, am a Heather who is a proud Kansan. I was born and raised here, then moved away to Texas and Ohio for 13 years when I got married. Upon my divorce ten years ago, I could have lived anywhere in the country - nothing was tying me anywhere. I chose to come back to Kansas. It is sad that lately because of the actions of a the extremists who have taken over our legislature, I have questioned this decision, yet I am here to stay.

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  8. Great article. Its tough when the something you love can also be such an embarrassment. Contact your government representatives, let them know their actions do not represent the majority of proud Kansns.

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  9. Well said, Heather.

    For several years I did a Kansas travel blog, urging folks to hit the highways and back roads to explore the state. I quit doing that several years ago, in utter disgust. I know that some of my ancestors who settled here in the early days and were elected to the legislature would be saddened by the current situation.

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    1. I'm with you, but the land, the land keeps inviting.

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  10. Thanks, Heather, for speaking plainly and with integrity. Your blog subtitle says you are still trying to figure out what to be when you grow up -- you are already far more "grown up" than the majority in the Kansas House.

    For decades I only had to explain to non-Kansas friends that (1) it is really quite hilly and (2) not every house gets hit by a cyclone and (3) I never had a dog named Toto but the state is, indeed, blessed with lots of rainbows and populated by many dreamers who, sooner or later, do travel way, way over those rainbows.

    But in recent years, I am regularly asked, "What's the matter with Kansas?" and must try to explain the tragically anti-human ideas, laws and proposed laws produced by current-day Kansas politics.

    If only Kansas legislators would step outside the House and Senate once in awhile to really, really look at and reflect on all those rainbows in the sky. Those rainbows include all colors. They are God's reminder that He counts all people as His children. We should do no less.

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  11. Don't give up on Kansas! We are a state where our beliefs are constantly challenged not only from outside our borders but from within. Our struggles to determine what is just and fair have created a people that know how to fight for the underdogs and rise up against tyranny. The present state will not last and we will be stronger for it and firmer in our convictions. Heather you wrote an excellent blog.

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  12. I live in southwest Kansas, and while unfortunately I know many who agree with these "Kansas lawmakers", I see a glimmer of hope in the number of people who don't. Like you! I'm impatiently waiting for the day when people aren't defined by their race, religion, sexual orientation, or whether or not they like bacon. None of that matters.

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  13. Well said, Heather. Hang in there, help is on its way. Some of us old and weary progressives who helped elect people who truly reflected the people of Kansas have decided to come off the bench and re-join the fray. The grownups are on their way, and you are one of us, in thought and spirit.

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    1. From one progressive to others, start calling your senators...Right now! They are weighing their votes. Another election year, 2014.
      Being raised on a farm in KS by parents who took over 33 other kids during our lifetimes in the Dust Bowl Days, I learned early on circumstances dictate your fortune..Unless someone offers you a hand up. How many conservatives live like that? And all 7 of us kids grew up to be farmers, teachers & nurses. Today with the decks stacked against the poor, nothing will change unless you in KS who are registered to vote take action far more than Election Day. Neither will it budge an inch for GLBTs in the name of religion.
      Do not forget how ugly Ks treated the Negroes. When I was 6 or so we walked into a cafe in Haviland, KS, to see at prominently hung sign warning "No Services to Negroes". I asked Momma what it meant. We left before ordering. At that time Negroes had to be out of town before sundown. (Or what? hanging? like the South?) A new Black family had just moved to town with 2 little girls. I remember being excited that we had new playmates in school. Their dad worked on the railroad and they couldn't live in Haviland,,,,,where I graduated from high school. Then tv came out and I saw the black students trying to attend school in Topeka.Students with parents standing behind them spat in the kids' faces. You remember..Brown Vs Topeka? We were so ashamed of our state then as I am today even if I'm in Colorado watching from afar.
      But today I have met the black girl,now a friend of mine,who fought with a white boy on the bridge to Montgomery. Dr King came along & told her,This is about Peace. You're going home with me to babysit my kids til this is achieved. The family never forgot her. The kids invite her to sit on the platform at every national event with them. I know she was there here in Denver. This happened while Ks was still denying rights to Blacks.
      Jump in and be active in political races where it counts. Anyone can make calls to neighbors, do mailings, Just show up. There are more of you out there than it appears right now. I've been retired from teaching 10 yrs and I work for my church and the underdog who has no voice. Be Loud & Proud.
      America needs you. So does my grandson and my friends.

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  14. Thank you all for your wonderful comments!! It is reassuring to know that we are not alone and that soon calmer and more moderate heads will prevail.

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  15. Thank you. You have put to words what I have been feeling for years. Unfortunately, we can only blame the people that elect our representatives and state leaders. We have to educate Kansans to not vote for the color of their party or the level of conservatism they represent... but rather, we need to vote for the quality of character and their dedication to Kansans over their party.

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  16. I have been a life long Kansan, but now I'm considering crossing the border to Missouri. It just breaks my heart what is being done......great article.

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    1. I can promise, Missouri isn't much better. We live in southeast, KS..... Husband works in southwest MO. It really isn't that much better. ;)

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  17. Heather, thanks so much for the wonderful reflection. You have captured my thoughts and feelings so well.

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  18. THANK YOU, HEATHER. You are the voice of Kansas. You should run for office!

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  19. Do you not find it all ironic that the alternative lifestyle community wants the legal right to SUE someone for not agreeing with their choices, while the conservatives simply want to be left out of this personal, private viewpoint without the fear of reprisal?? YET, the media is spinning this as an attack on the LGTB crowd, when they are the one's that want the power position. Surely, there are enough wedding cake makers that are willing to sell you a cake with out any concern of who you want to marry...do we really need to bully the narrow minded into ageeing with everything or anything someone else want's to do?? What ever happed to "live & let live"?

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    1. Your view it too simplistic. This is not about wedding cakes. The bill, as it stands, means that if you need medicine, the clerk at the pharmacy can say, "You're gay. I don't like that and I won't sell this to you." Without fear of reprisal from his or her employer. A checker at the grocery store can ignore you. A member of an EMS team can refuse to resuscitate you. The waitress at.the diner can say "We don't serve your kind". Getting the picture yet? This bill is legalized discrimination, pure and simple.

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    2. I'm sure that southerners in the 1960's just wanted to be left alone to do what they'd always done without fear of reprisal during the civil rights movement. Likewise, corporate boardrooms and legislatures didn't want to have to deal with women wanting access to power. "Live and let live" wouldn't have made those changes, either, but we now have legally accepted that they were necessary.

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    3. A business owner can't ask about a interviewee's relgion and has no recourse if they unknowingly hire a bigot who drives away business. Sexual orientation is not protected in Kansas at this time and likely. won't be until it protected at the federal level so your point is without merit. In any case if your business is open to the public you don't get to violate civil rights of protected classes. You don't have a guaranteed right to run a business but individuals do have right to not be discriminated against. The photographer in NM and the baker in WA violated their states constitutions. They can close up shop or move if they have a problem with it.

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    4. I was born in Kansas and have lived here all my life - so far. I have many friends that are gay. But I guess I just don't understand what all the fuss is about. The way I understand this new legislation is to protect the business owner from being sued if they turn business away - for whatever reason. But in almost every circumstance, the patron has NO reason to tell the business that they ARE gay. Just don't tell them. In the instance of a cake, the only thing that would be a giveaway would be if they order a topper w/two males/females. Don't do it! Just buy another topper and change them out when the day comes.

      I do not see people walking in and sitting down to eat at a restaurant, and the first thing they say as the waitress comes over is, "Hi, we're gay and we want your daily special." There's just no reason to tell!

      The example that one person gave about the pharmacy and being refused is just ridiculous. Can you actually see that happening here in Kansas? Maybe in New York, or L.A., but people are generally not rude here in Kansas! The legislation protects the businesses from being sued and all the LGBT community has to do is just shut up and not tell. Is that so tough??

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    5. So let me get this straight [absolutely NO pun intended]: It's okay to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender as long as you keep it to yourself and it doesn't show??? Really? So as long as everyone stays in the closet, you're okay with that?

      Have you ever been called a racist? Or a bigot? Or sexist? Of course not! Because you "have many friends that are black" you couldn't possibly be a racist.

      People that think the way you do and say the things that you are saying [Anonymous February 16, 2014 at 4:26 pm] are the reason WHY these horrible people - yes, they are Kansans, too - have been nominated, elected, and now act with the hubris of a puritanical preacher.

      I hope and pray that one day, your mind will awaken from this fog of utter ignorance. Your position is nothing more than discrimination in all its disgusting, narrow-minded, self-righteous glory. It may be candy coated, but a lump of ----- dunked in chocolate and served with a rose is still ----!!!

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    6. I can see it happening. Maybe not often. But there are gay couples all over the state and yes, there are business owners who would love to say they wouldn't serve them. just like people refused to serve blacks decades longer than one would think. And add to that the fact that, according to the way this is written, the local fire department could also let their house burn down. To me the point is that legalizing discrimination shouldn't be the freaking direction we should be going in. I don't have to hide any facts of my life to be treated like a human being and neither should a gay person.

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    7. You are missing the point. Do straight people have to "switch out" wedding cake toppers? Do straight people have to hide who they love? Going back in the closet so as to not make straight "religious" people uncomfortable is what gay people have been having to do for too long. They had to or they might get fired from their job, they might not be rented an apartment....exactly what this house bill supports.

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    8. Funny thing... My granddaughter worked for that guy, an owner of the shop in the story. He's a wonderful, excellent baker & businessman. He even has baked cakes for our grandson's HS graduation & birthdays. The family loves him; they did go to the same church before they moved. Choices are hard even in a metropolis.. And they support him.

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    9. I might add they supported him in my mind over the son because of the church's view.....

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    10. Wow. Your post is just wrong on so many levels.

      "alternative lifestyle community?" I think you mean gay. It's a word. You can say it. It doesn't make you one.

      "gays want the legal right to sue someone" Yes. That's the status quo for minorities. Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act and the Kansas Acts Against Discrimination (KAAD) allow blacks, hispanics, women, Jews, Muslims, etc. to bring legal claims when employers, landlords, and those providing public accomodations discriminate against them. In about half the country, gays are included in that list under state/local law. Not in Kansas (except for Lawrence). We give minorities certain tools to ensure justice, and it's not that radical an idea to treat gays as we treat other minorities in America.

      "gays choose to be gay" This makes as little sense as asking straight people when they chose to be straight. But for arguments sake, let's say it is a choice. So is religion. And religion is a protected class under our nondiscrimination laws. That's because it's integral to a person's identity and somewhat fixed. I don't know about you, but I don't know many people whose sexual orientation varies day to day. Sexual orientation is no different than religion. It's a key component of our identities and somewhat fixed.

      "conservatives simply want to be left out of this personal, private viewpoint without the fear of reprisal" Title VII and KAAD (see above) have included religion as a protected class for decades. Thus, the Jewish photographer cannot decline to photograph the Muslim wedding, the Christian baker cannot decline to bake a cake for a Muslim family's breaking of the Ramadan fast, the atheist contractor cannot decline to work on the Christian evangelical church building, etc. That's no matter the personal religious beliefs of that business owner on Jews, Muslims, Christians, etc. The religious freedom bill doesn't change any of that. It just carves out a narrow slice--religious beliefs regarding sex and gender regarding marriage and family. It makes no sense legally or intellectually to set up a general framework for protecting minority rights and then carve out gays alone from that. To me, it's prima facie evidence of animus against gays that makes the bill susceptible to legal challenge. See for example the famous Supreme Court case Romer v. Evans.

      "Surely, there are enough wedding cake makers" I find it repugnant that you would put the victim of discrimination in the position of having to accomdate the person discriminating. If I make a slight variation on your comment... "Surely there are enough lunch counters and bus seats..." I hope you can see the folly in it.

      "bully the narrow minded into ageeing with everything" That's our current law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and KAAD require employers, landlords, and those providing public accomodations to serve minorities without prejudice. It's worked well for decades. And your conception of gays "bullying" straights is comical. Listen to any school age kid in America and I doubt you'll hear slurs like "hey hetero" or "that's straight."

      "live and let live" Kansas has a long way to go for live and let live with her gay citizens. It took a 2003 Supreme Court decision to decriminalize being gay in Kansas, and our legislature and governor have resisted removing that unenforceable law from the books. My partner is a legal stranger to me under state law. It's legal under state law for an employer to not hire/fire a qualified gay person solely because they're gay (has happened to me). Landlords can deny gay tenants a place to live. Restaurants and hotels can refuse to serve a gay person. And the legislature wants to double down and say even though discrimination against gays is legal, we want to underscore it's especially legal if you're motivated by a religious belief. How is that live and let live?

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  20. Hi Heather,
    I came here from a post my cousin-in-law shared on FB. Your article was well written and made some good arguments. Though I don't currently live in KS (Austin, TX right now) I call Kansas my home. I moved there, Garden City, in the 7th grade, earned my AS in Overland Park, my BS in Manhattan, was married, gave birth to my two sons and was divorced in Kansas. I follow the politics pretty closely because it is very close to my heart. I was deeply ashamed a few years ago when the evolution/intelligent design in education debate was raging. Now they are debating something even closer to me.

    I went to high school with a lovely gay man who was a very close and dear friend. He still is. My youngest son is gay. I can not tell you how much it hurts me that there are people who see him as that, (gay) and not for what he is. What he is is a beautiful, intelligent, sensitive young man. A human being who should enjoy all the freedoms and rights of every other human being regardless of who he prefers to sleep with. I don't understand why it's anyone's business what he does in the bedroom anyway.

    What this bill is, and does is legitimizes the right for government employees to refuse service to a population of Kansas citizens. As a state employee, and the daughter of a former federal employee, I believe that I have a perspective that only a handful of the nations population has. Government can not and should not EVER discriminate. Every citizen of that community has the right to receive equal respect and consideration by it's government. That is the purpose of our type of government, that is why our bill of rights, constitution and amendments were written as they are. Because of the equal rights amendment, I thought, in my naivety, that everyone could receive services. I never thought that my son would ever be discriminated against like he is. It's a damn shame, and I will not ever understand how anyone could do such a thing to him.

    Because of people like you, my cousin-in-law Stacy, me, my friend Tom, my son Michael, and every other person out there that says WE WILL BE HEARD, some day the tide will turn in Kansas as it is in other communities all over the country. Don't stop fighting the good fight Heather. We need people like you to show the citizens of Kansas what is right, fair, and just. One article, one person at a time, we can help Kansas become the beautiful place you and I both know it can be.

    From Austin, Texas
    Lori

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    1. Thanks Lori. Great post. I wish more government workers were like you. In 2012, I went to the Johnson County DMV to retitle a car. Things were going smoothly until I was asked about a transfer-on-death beneficiary. I of course gave the name of my partner (default laws of inheritance won't give him my car when I die). Within thirty seconds, the clerk made an anti-gay comment. After waiting hours for service, I bit my lip to get my car title, went home and wrote a supervisor about it. No one bothered to reply. It may seem small, but little things like this add up over time.

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  21. Above, so we're going to strip the rights of anyone who doesn’t live the Kansas status quo lifestyle of rights?

    And I truly appreciate this article. However you do realize that when you speak of "extremists" your speaking of the majority right? Brownback was elected with with more than 63% of the state vote. As we're most other Republican candidates. Every county in the state save 2 voted for him. Knowing that, and growing up in Kansas since the age of 6, it's hard to paint it as a place of reason. Reason is teachable, and ignorance can be over come. However, ignorance doesn't seem to be the issue for KS. It seems as though the VAST majority of the state made their choice knowing full well the extremist they chose. Hindsight is 20/20, my question is with the record he had where was your foresight? How can I, you, and anyone who loves someone in Kansas continue to defend such a backwards society?

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  22. Remember kids, the minority always gets more rights!

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    1. Equal rights are not more rights. It's unthinkable that you might walk into a coffee shop and have a gay waiter refuse to get you a cup of coffee because you're straight. That just doesn't happen. Well, this law would guarantee YOU the right to refuse to serve the gay patron because you disapprove of them.

      Are you giving someone a right that you don't have when you eliminate that possibility? No. You just don't recognize that you as a (straight / white / male....fill in your mainstream attribute here) have that right, because it's such a commonplace thing. To consciously guarantee the other person the right to be served in a public place may SEEM like giving them more, but it really isn't. Substitute being black / Jewish / female in the situation and you'll see that we''ve already affirmed that discrimination is unacceptable in American life, religious affiliations notwithstanding. People have used scripture to justify discrimination against all those categories.

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    3. That's silly. Minorities don't get more rights. We work to give them justice with tools like nondiscrimination laws. That might look like more rights, but it's just trying to remedy their historical exclusion from getting full access to those rights.

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  23. Jonathan, unfortunately some of the statistics you quote (63%) need some further explanation... less than 50% of the registered KS voters made the effort to vote in that election. I am not sure then that it was the majority opinion just those who made the effort. THAT is sad in our state and our country! Our voting records in Kansas and in the national elections reflect that the majority don't make the effort to vote and yet as a nation we are in countries to 'defend democracy' against governments who deny democracy to their populations. Many of these populations walk days and wait hours in lines to exercise their right to make their choice and vote resulting in much hi g her percentages of eligible voters voting! I have heard too many excuses why one couldn't make it to vote in this country (either to early voting and on the actual voting day). SIGH

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    1. You're 110% right! He was elected with 63% of those who voted. The combined votes in that election were under a million. I couldn't agree with you more. Thank you!

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  24. This is why going to the polls and voting is so important! We must not continue to believe that our votes don't count, they do! Probably more in state and local elections than national ones. It's time to change the face of the Kansas legislature by electing moderate, common-sense, rational people to govern our state. As a lifelong Kansan, it causes a deep pain in my soul to see my state "representatives" act in such a discriminatory fashion. We must keep fighting for our neighbors and friends, and end this attack on them! But the first step is to vote!

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  25. This is so right on about how I feel about Kansas as well. Hope you don't mind- I sent a copy of the link to your blog to my legislator who voted to support the bill. I could never express my sentiment as well as you did.
    P.S. I am a Wildcat and a registered Republican. And outraged at this!

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    1. You are right to be outraged. Sending this piece to your legislator is a good first step. The next step is to find someone to run against him and work for that person's election. Maybe you.

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  26. I echo the comments above about my native state. I grew up in NW Kansas and worked for Gov. Mike Hayden. Boy, have things gone downhill since those days! I do have hope that even a "conservative" Republican rep from my hometown is backing Paul Davis. Please, please everyone register to vote and get out there to remove these embarrassing government office-holders who are taking us down.

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  27. Thank you Heather. I grew up in Missouri. I have put my feet in all 50 states on my job as a corporate trainer and consultant. But I moved to Kansas at age 33, and I raised my kids here. My two girls graduated with honors from the Shawnee Mission district. One went to KU and then to Washburn and has her Juris Doctorate. The other went to a private college to study nursing and now works in the transplant recovery unit at the KU hospital.
    I have embraced this state and it has become of part of me. But these freaks in Topeka are trying to destroy the things I love most about Kansas. And I refuse to let them. Thank you so much for your words. They encourage all of us who care about all of Kansas and all Kansans more than we care about politics.

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  28. Heather, your post made me weepy. I'm a Kansan born and raised who bailed out a few years ago because, after 40 years of listening to all the extremist BS, I couldn't take it anymore. But I love my old Home on the Range. I'm even sending my son back to Kansas for college next Fall. I have faith that my boy and good folks like you will stand up and take back our state. I'll do what I can from my home here in Florida, including sending donations to worthwhile candidates in Kansas. Keep writing, sister!

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    1. You moved from Kansas to Florida? That seems like out of the frying pan and into the fire.

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    2. I know, right? Little did I know! The good news is that I picked the Florida Keys for my home, which is known for being welcoming to all kinds of folks. It's got a small town vibe without people being all up in yo' bidness. Perfect balance. Still, Kansas will always be home. Thanks for holding down the fort. Rock Chalk! XO

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  29. I love Kansas, but we have got to get rid of almost all of our current politicians. We need to unify without concern of party affiliation, for the good of our state and the people in it. Let's work together this and every election from now on. Don't vote straight party, educate yourself on the candidates and vote on them based on what they will or won't do. Also look for affiliation and support from rich people who they will end up serving, as opposed to serving the people of our great state.

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  30. Thank you for writing this! It's exactly how I feel. A bit confused that some comments focus on the whole KU/KSU rivalry. I guess I thought the issue was more that it's time for Kansans who truly love Kansas to take our state back from extremists. Excellent thoughts! Excellent blog! Thank you again!

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  31. Perfectly and beautifully stated, Heather! I haven't lived in Kansas for over 30 years, but it is and always will be home in a way that Texas has never become. (Same sort of politicians, though!) I saw a link to your post on FB and I am going to pass it on on my own FB page. --- Anita Fiedler

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  32. This law was started to protect people from suing them into bankruptcy. A homosexual couple wanted a wedding cake and the baker said no for his religious beliefs. The couple sued. Why no go somewhere else? Why all the in your face? I could not give two cents on who you want to have sex with. It is not my position to judge. Personally, I would not use my hard earned dollars to buy from someone who did not like me or want to provide a service to me.

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    1. Why should we treat gays differently than blacks, women, Jews, etc. when it comes to nondiscrimination laws? If we require the Jewish photographer to film the Muslim wedding, how is it any different from requiring the Christian baker to make a cake for a gay wedding?

      You seem to think that these discrimination claims with monetary remedies are unwarranted. Shouldn't a business owner who discriminates against someone against the law pay the adjudicated remedy?

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  33. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Anonymous, when did you choose to be heterosexual?

      That's what I thought. Your sexual orientation is not something you *choose* you are born that way.

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  34. NIce post Heather. I too am an "import" to Kansas after living in several states and many different cities growing up. I have lived in places like the back hills of Arkansas to the west coast and LA. I love KS! I love knowing someone will help me if I am in trouble. In LA they just step over your body and keep on walking. I am so dismayed at the current government in our great state. I have a challenge to every one of you that are so fed up with is wrong at the state level. I CHALLENGE you to get off your duff and make a difference. It is OUR state. Just so you know, yes I am involved in doing what I can in my little part of the state to make a difference. These are our neighbors, friends, and family for crying out loud. Time to make a stand people and stop whining. We can't change things if we don't get involved. Stop thinking you can't make a difference. There is much to be done if we want to change who is in office and if you can't and don't want to get too involved then just get out and VOTE next election! Big things happen when people band together, YOU can make a difference!

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  35. Many of us living in Kansas agree with you , Heather. You are helping us to see that we must educate ourselves, then step up, speak out and support new candidates who want to take back our state. Voting is the key. It would be great to see moderate candidates run in the primary races. It's possible to register and/or change party affilation simply to be able to vote in the Republican primaries. Then, in the general election.....get out and VOTE again, for candidates who truly represent the Great State of Kansas regardless of their party affiliation.

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  36. The primaries are the important elections in Kansas. So many Kansans are going to vote Republican no matter what.....that is how we ended up with the legislature that we presently have. We MUST convince our neighbors that primaries are important....or I am afraid that the insanity will continue.

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  37. Did anyone read bill? Or just the one sided articles that are incorrect or half truths. Do yourself a favor and read the bill

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    1. I read it, and it scared the crap out of me. How anyone could vote for that garbage is beyond me. So thankful people are pushing back and making their voices heard.

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  38. I moved to Kansas because I fell in love with a Kansan. I soon found out he was a bigot, a racist, a religious homophobe. It was originally a long-distance relationship so it took time to learn these things. By that time I had bought a house here and landed in a wonderful, ethnically diverse neighborhood, well, it was mostly black except for me! My beautiful neighbors adopted me when my mother's family back in New England disowned me. They took me to their churches, into their homes for dinner and mowed my lawn when I had fallen too deep into alcoholism to do for myself. I dumped the racist, bigoted bf within 6 months. I don't need that. Today, I am healthy and enjoy the diversity of a wonderful neighborhood, city and state. Bigots don't scare me, they just make me stronger. I won't stop speaking up for those who are the targets of discrimination. Not until I physically can't any more. Love to all in Kansas who have compassion and love for others.

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  39. Kansas will only continue to fall to the extremists if the rest of us become discouraged and leave. The more good people that leave, is more victory for the extremists. Keep it going strong, we can't let them have this wonderful place.

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  40. I am saddened by this backwards step, too. However, you forgot to mention Wichita State as one of the good things about Kansas.

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  41. OK...you've struck a very sore point with me so I'm going to comment when I don't usually "comment" on peoples articles. You have spoken like a true, Liberal, KU loving fan. Kansas has NOT been taken over by extremist. It has been taken over by people who honor values, morals, and principles that are aligned by most Kansans. We don't WANT Kansas to be like California, New York or any other Liberal "extremist" state. We want Kansas to remain to be a Republican, conservative, moralistic and value driven state. If you don't like the Kansas Government and think that it's being run by "extremist" I suggest that you leave this most beautiful, scenic, wonderful state. I have had the opportunity to live (and teach) in Ireland, Puerto Rico and New Jersey. None of those places are anything like my home state of Kansas....and none ever COULD be like my beloved Kansas.
    So, my advice to you dear Heather, KU luvin' Kansan, is to leave ..before you spoil this most magnificent state!

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    1. So you're saying the rest of us don't honor values, morals, or principles of any kind. Since they aren't your values or morals, the rest of us are savages who do not know what it means to be civilized. Shame on you for thinking your way of life is the only way. All any of us "Liberal KU Loving Fans" (as you have labeled 'everyone else') want is a more united and conflict free society. But I suppose individuals like yourself are so stubborn that you abhor change and you fear that your 'safe-haven' is disappearing. I suppose any creature would fear for its survival, but face it. Your generation and their ideology is marked for extinction whether you like it or not.

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    2. For the record, I'm a liberal kstate loving Kansan, and I'm staying put. My morals aren't lacking, and neither are my values. I'm on the side of love and justice and I'm proud to join with my liberal Ku loving friends to fight for what is right. And if you are proud of what the governor has been up to as of late, then I would suggest that your values need some serious reexamination.

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    3. Bravo OrneryUrchin! That's what we all want to say, but you said it best.

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    4. Is it moral to discriminate, and propel a culture of ignorance, fear, and bigotry? Kansas was founded by abolitionists...keep that culture of acceptance and tolerance alive. Remain conservative if you so choose, being conservative doesn't mean you have to be a bigot, it doesn't mean you have to discriminate.

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    5. So your reply to gay Kansans asking for equal treatment is to suggest exile? Wow. Just wow.

      We have a secular government. Your moral views of homosexuality aren't appropriate to the policy making discussion. That's why gays are having to resort to individual liberties lawsuits in the courts.

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  42. Great article Heather. I agree with you totally. Another subject you could write about is the unfairness of the voter registration law. Do we really have a problem with voter fraud? No, its for voter suppression so the Republicans can get more votes. Keep on writing. We all need to band together and get it right.

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  43. I suggest everyone go back and read the bill. This has nothing to do with LGBT, that is just the buzzword of the time. It has everything to do with governmental interference in a PRIVATE business. The comments about the fire department letting your house burn down or the EMT refusing to transport an LGBT patient are ludicrous. A private business owner can run his or her business any way he or she wishes, whether he's a jerk or not. If you don't like it, shop somewhete else, eat somewhere else, tell your friends, write a letter to your local paper. Let the free market work. If we don't and we start letting the government dictate everything, we are all in big trouble.

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    1. False. A business cannot turn away a customer because of their age, religion, gender, race and many other categories because those are protected categories. Just like employers cannot fire or deny employment based on these categories. The same goes for housing, banking, etc.

      The issue is, sexual orientation is not a protected category in all states. This bill states that any person can refuse business services, housing, employment and a myriad of other things to a gay person. The individual denying the service needs only to cite their religious reasons for doing so.

      So yes, under this bill an EMT worker or fireman could refuse to help a gay person if they felt it was against their religion. That is the issue with the bill any why so many people are up in arms.

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    2. This is EXACTLY what the government is for, to protect its citizens. I'm happy to let the government dictate that the bigots can be sued for discrimination.

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    3. You're apparently ignorant of the law. See Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Kansas Acts Against Discrimination. We require employers, landlords, and providers of public accommodation--even if private businesses--not to discriminate against certain minorities. That the Kansas legislature wants to specifically carve out gays from this framework, even though they're already not a protected minority, is all the more offensive.

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  44. Is there more information on who voted for this , this I don't even know what to call it? And how we I can contact those things that voted for it.
    Great article and responses.

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    1. This is called House Bill 2453. This link lists the names of the House members who voted "yes" to pass the bill in the Kansas House:
      http://kansasequalitycoalition.org/viewevent.php?e=4981&c=0

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  45. This is called House Bill 2453. If you don't want to see this bill passed, tell your Senate representatives!! Make a call, send an email. TELL THEM you don't want to see Kansas take rights away from its citizens!!

    This link lists the names and contact information of the Senate members who are part of the committee overseeing the bill:
    http://m.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/13/1277451/-CALL-TO-ACTION-Kansas-Senate-Considers-Bailing-on-HB-2453-the-Anti-Gay-bill

    This link lists the names of the House members who voted "yes" to pass the bill in the Kansas House:
    http://kansasequalitycoalition.org/viewevent.php?e=4981&c=0

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  46. Wow! Waytago, Heather! Not only did you hit the nail on the head, you've started a very passionate conversation. I am a Kansan. I moved to Los Angeles when I graduated from KU, but I will always be a Kansan -- a gay Kansan. I was one of the ones who went the easy way and moved to a place where I could live more openly. I'm 68 and feel that it was the best way for me to reach my full potential. In the '60s when I left, there was no way that I could live an authentic life in Kansas.

    Last year, in February, I visited Lawrence with a show that I had produced called "it gets better". We spent a week in Lawrence, going to high schools and middle schools and meeting with civic leaders to start a dialogue about keeping our kids safe from bullying. The week culminated in a performance at Lied Center. We were picketed by the Westboro Baptist "Church".

    It was so wonderful for me to be back in Kansas talking with concerned parents, educators, police, politicians and students from middle school to KU grad students. I visited my church in Prairie Village where my minister had been the Grand Marshall of the Gay Pride Parade. I am so proud to have been Kansas-raised. Still, I have Kansas friends who think very differently from you and me. I do believe that they are the minority, at least in my small sphere of knowledge about the current state of things. But I know that Kansas people are open and generous and their brothers' keepers. I have faith that this era will pass -- and soon. Thank you for your very thoughtful post.

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    1. I'm a gay Kansan and moved away too because I didn't feel comfortable here. Many of the gay Kansans I know moved away too. Once I got a little more comfortable in my skin, I moved back, but there have been several days I've asked myself why. It's sad that as a state we have created an environment where creative, productive citizens feel compelled to leave. I think about all the fine people I know who left and will never come back. They're losses for Kansas and unjust rewards for coastal cities.

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  47. Wow! There actually are some liberals in Kansas. I'm glad to hear it since I am one, too. I believe in equality for everyone -- even gays! I hope more Kansans open their eyes and remember that everyone is created equal....

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  48. To those who complain about "othering" within the article I suggest you put on your compassionate clothes and consider "walking a mile" in the shoes of those whom God made different. Right now in our state for them it is a very unpleasant and fearful journey...

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  49. This article clearly advocates hatred of the alleged haters! How can it be acceptable for "us" to hate "them"?

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  50. Some misconceptions in your heartfelt blog ...
    • “They wouldn’t take away services that help our mentally disabled.”
    Do not know which issue you are addressing here, but …
    If you are referring to the developmentally disabled: Services that help the developmentally disabled have not been taken away. Can’t think why you have that idea. In 2008, the then-Governor put in place a rule that said for every two people who came off the waiting list and into the waiver program, only one person would be allowed to enter the program. That was not current administration.
    The Brownback administration has taken more people off of the developmental disability waiver waiting list than the last four administrations combined and begun providing them with services. Last fall the Governor moved an additional $37 million from KanCare savings to a fund that is being used to remove individuals from the waiting list and put them in the program.
    The services they get are not determined by the state, but rather by the Community Developmental Disability Organizations and their targeted case managers, which they, not the state, choose. We are eliminating, through KanCare, the “underserved” waiting list, that is, we are providing services to people with I/DD already in the wavier program who have requested additional services. This has never occurred since the waiver program was created. Those in the waiver program are getting more services and coordinated care than ever before.
    If you are talking about mental health:
    Total spending on mental health services decreased by $19.6 million or 5.0% between FY 2011 and FY 2013. The decrease is attributable exclusively to lower Medicaid caseloads, primarily in the category of Residential Treatment, that is psychiatric residential treatment facilities and nursing facilities for mental health (apart from the two state hospitals). Some context: the increasing preference for community treatment options, that is, outpatient treatment rather than residential, is reflected in these numbers. Community treatment is also the most cost-effective way to deliver services.

    BUT ...
    > How much does Kansas spend on Mental Health funding? Has this been cut?
    > • Spending on mental health in Kansas from Fiscal Year 2002 to Fiscal Year 2013 has increased by 82.9 percent. Between 2008 and 2013, overall mental health spending increased by 41 percent.

    Has Mental Health funding been cut under Governor Brownback?
    > • Spending on mental health in Kansas from Fiscal Year 2011 (pre-Governor Brownback) to Fiscal Year 2013 has decreased from $391.5 million to $371.9 million. This is due exclusively to lower Medicaid caseloads--primarily in the category of residential treatment, see above.
    >Increase from $209.4 million to $214.7 million for total CMHC funding.
    >Increase from $30.7 million to $37.7 million in CMHC grants.
    > A decrease from $178.7 million to $177.0 million in CMHC Medicaid caseload funding.
    > A decrease from $72.3 million to $45.6 million for total residential treatment caseload funding.
    > An increase of $95.8 million to $96.7 million for total state mental health hospital funding.

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    1. You're facile with budget data for the state that I'm not an expert in. But your post doesn't seem to match community leaders' comments on the ground here. In the last six weeks, in three separate presentations, I've heard a state district judge, our district attorney, our county sheriff, and our community mental health center director lament decreased state funding for mental health. Our county sheriff complained about cuts at the Larned mental health hospital specifically (and I know Kansas Neurological Institute had cuts too). North of one third of bookings at the Douglas County jail have mental health issues, which in part spurred Douglas County to create a reentry program using predominantly non-state funds. Our community mental health center used to have mental health staff in every elementary school to screen for and assist at-risk youth. Those positions have been cut due to budget cuts. A simple google search turns up several articles on mental health budgets cuts--if your comments were so cut-and-dried, why is there such public misunderstanding?

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    2. Quick correction: Our county sheriff complained about the Osawatomie hospital, not Larned. My mental health is suffering. :)

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  51. • “They wouldn’t take away social services that help the children of our great state.”
    Again, I can’t imagine what you are talking about. First, remember that the federal government, not the states, sets the basic rules. I can tell you that EVERY CHILD IN KANSAS WHOSE FAMILY QUALIFIES FOR WELFARE IS RECEIVING WELFARE. One of the first things you ought to know about this is that there are fewer families receiving welfare in Kansas today because the unemployment rate has dropped from 7.8 percent to 4.9 percent since 2011. Unless you are willing to argue that it is a good thing for more people to be unemployed and on welfare than working and not on welfare, then this is a cause for pride not shame.
    I think we would probably disagree on a basic concept here. If I am correctly interpreting what you wrote, you think the more children receiving social welfare benefits, the better off our state is. I disagree because I don’t think that dependency on government is good for anyone, and it certainly is not good for families.
    • Have no idea what you are talking about when you mention “laws that place burdens on the backs of everyday Kansans,” but it seems to me our environmental laws strike a decent balance between preserving the environment and our public health and safety, and allow people to continue to farm. I do not think our environmental laws are particularly onerous, as they are in, say, California.
    • Tend to agree with you on the anti-gay law, but need to point out that it has not become law, only passed one House of the Legislature and the President of the Senate and Judiciary Committee Chairman have both said they will not bring it up for a vote, so it is really, at this point, moot. Can’t imagine what they were thinking. You cannot legalize discrimination.

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    1. “take away social services that help the children of our great state” It’s clear OP is talking about SRS defunding the Lawrence and other SRS offices in 2011. The affected counties had to step up and find funds to keep these offices open with little notice. And what’s with the strawman arguments that OP wants more unemployment and more children receiving social welfare benefits? Those are easy to knock down because they’re absurd—OP made no such claims.

      “laws that place burdens on the backs of everyday Kansans” Again, it’s perfectly clear OP is talking about the huge Brownback tax cuts and the cuts in public services that they will require. Twisting OP’s post into a defense of California environmental laws is a complete red herring. Speaking of fish, KDHE officially says that catfish caught from the Kansas River downstream of Lawrence is unsafe to eat due to PCB contamination. How is that preserving public health?

      For so thoughtful a commenter, why hide behind anonymity?

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  52. Lived in wonderful Kansas for 22 years, I am so sorry for the hateful laws of Kansas and wish the worst to Sam Brownback and his hate, perhaps he should join the hateful Westboro Baptist Church Gang.

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  53. While I do not condone the way Kansas is using it's tax money, I do not condone the gay or lesbian lifestyle. I do pray for them to come to the truth of the Alpha and Omega Lawmaker who will have the ultimate decision above any of our laws. I wish them no harm, only to come to the truth. Condoning their lifestyle is tantamount to participating in that sin. If you are not a believer this will only sound like another person you do not wish to hear from. I can only pray that all will hear the truth.

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    1. I respect your right to your opinion, even if I disagree with it. Our First Amendment right to free speech gives you the ability to write that. And our First Amendment freedom of religion gives you the right to exclude me from your church. And your First Amendment freedom of association gives you the right to exclude me from your clubs. But as a society, we have drawn the line on those personal freedoms when it comes to businesses serving the public. If you're an employer, landlord, or sell to the public, we expect you to really employ, rent, and sell among the public, not to just some. This is a reasonable place to draw the line--it guarantees minority populations the ability to earn a living, have a place to live, buy necessities of life like groceries, food, and medicine, and move about the public world as others do. Is that too much to ask?

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  54. So you want me to be exactly like you in my beliefs? I am not averse to hearing from you, but wonder if you see any God-given beauty and value in diversity? With your definition of sin, you are assuming a judgmental position and part of that position is a simplistic and naive belief that you know what is best for everyone. I abhor that. Your definition of sin goes against much evidence that shows sexual orientation is not a choice. Why would anyone choose to be LGBT considering the status relegated to them by much of society? If there were moral positions like yours in the animal kingdom, your reasoning might consider a cat to be a sinner because it is not a dog, which is your preference for a pet. I suspect that "this will only sound like another person you do not wish to hear from."

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    1. I completely agree with your right to disagree with me. However you must be aware that this is not just my definition of sin. This is the definition expressly given by God. The one thing we all have in common as God's gift is our power of reasoning, something the animal world was not given. How each will use that gift is our real diversity. As for me, I will stand for what I know to be the law according to God. For me to remain silent would also be giving my consent to what I believe is sin and thereby making myself a guilty accomplice and failing to encourage other souls to obey the Gospel. I am a sinner and have repented, denouncing those sins. In no way am I perfect but I now have put on Jesus in baptism and he intercedes for me. I am the same body as always, but a new soul. I only pray that everyone would know that feeling. I'm no better than anyone else, just better off than many.

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  55. I am so happy to read this, I just got a bachelor's degree in Sustainability (from psu in ks) and now I am feeling a blackslash by state politics. We have got way too many extremist running the show around here and it has got me thinking about seriously moving far away from here. Politically or Socially we don't have to agree on everything but we had officials who do not rep us correctly. It's become a quite isolating place to be

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  56. This is so well written. Our only chance to rebuke the insanity of these extremists is to educate ourselves on all current legislators & then the candidates who oppose them, make an educated choice & vote every time we can. These extremists, though perhaps the minority, certainly know how to get out their votes.

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  57. Well said. I am also a kansan, an couldn`t imagine living anywhere else. This is my home, i love it and everything about it. I too was a military brat and ende up here when i was in the 1st grade from south korea. Kansas is home. I believe kansas is truely the heart of the united states. *salina, ks

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  58. Your comment about drivers waving at each other brought back found memories. The styles might vary (some waved only the index finger or thumb--others greeted with the full palm), but it was always a friendly acknowledgement that we shared the same path. Maybe the state needs to elect more wavers and ask the haters to stay off the road.

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  59. As a displaced Kansan.. I read this and cried.
    Thank you for so eloquently saying what I did not have the words to express.

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  60. I miss Yoder cinnamon rolls. :( Rumor has it Carriage Crossing moved? When I was a high school senior in '05, the freshmen class felt safe enough to express their various sexualities to their peers. This was in Newton, KS and I'm proud to have witnessed it. Regardless of how narrow-minded the lawmakers may be, the people around us are socially evolving. The new adults just need to figure out how to navigate the voting arena; not to mention work on establishing their own values.
    Fantastic post :)

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  61. Great post Heather. I think it's easy for many Kansans to support bills like this because they haven't experienced discrimination targeting a minority community. A couple recent personal stories...

    My partner and I moved to Johnson County in 2011 from Lawrence. We posted a housing wanted ad online, looking for a townhouse or small house to rent, and disclosing many of the traits that made us ideal tenants (two professionals, no children or pets, etc.). The first reply was a threat repeated three times for us to stay in Lawrence because we weren’t welcome in Johnson County.

    Why were we moving away from Lawrence? I had just graduated from graduate school at KU and accepted a job with a large Kansas City employer. I had interviewed with several big companies when job hunting. Last year, an employee at one of the companies that didn't offer me a job, who I had befriended since, disclosed that I was qualified to be hired but passed over for employment because the company "wasn't ready" for an openly gay employee yet.

    I’m a well-educated, relatively privileged white man and lead a pretty conventional life. This happened in modern times in a moderate part of the state. And I've got it relatively easy. An LGBT friend came out to her car one night to find a propane tank wedged under it.

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  62. I'm a native Kansan temporarily exiled (for a job) to California. While it is an adventure living here.....I miss my home state. It saddens me immensely to see what has happened to the politics in the state. I know that there are good people all over the state, so I don't understand how these current crazy politicians got into power. I wish that I could DO something, but I can't vote in the state and I can't even write to express my opinions to your legislators on their web sites....besides coming from a resident of San Francisco my opinions would be ignored anyway. Hopefully the current craziness has awakened a sleeping giant in the good people of Kansas. I can retire in a few years. I fully intend to move back home and make myself a thorn in the side of the crazies....who knows, maybe even run for office.

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