Two new anti-LGBTQ bills, HB 2320 and HB 2321, have been introduced in the Kansas House of Representatives this session. Both are related to marriage, and together they make a bold anti-LGBTQ statement.
Let’s break these bills down a bit, shall we? First, the sponsors of both bills are these eight Republican representatives: Randy Garber (Sabetha), Owen Donohoe (Shawnee), David French (Lansing), Cheryl Helmer (Mulvane), Ron Highland (Wamego), Steve Huebert (Valley Center), Ken Rahjes (Agra) and Bill Rhiley (Wellington).
First, we’ll look at HB 2320, which is a doozy. It’s called the Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act. This bill makes claims that LGBTQ people are seeking to dominate and that anybody who doesn’t share their beliefs is being persecuted. One of its main points is that “sexual orientation is a mythology, dogma, doctrine or orthodoxy that is inseparably linked to the religion of secular humanism.” Because secular humanism is a religion, it says, being LGBTQ is “faith-based.” What a reach.
The bill calls into question whether being LGBTQ is even real, referring to “self-asserted, sex-based identity narratives that are questionably real.” Other passages would prohibit any ban on conversion therapy (which has widely been debunked), would prohibit drag queen story time at libraries, and would strip LGBTQ protections at the local level by prohibiting the recognition of LGBTQ as a “suspect class.”
Several portions of the bill would seem to be unconstitutional. But in addition, the anti-gay sentiment that they show is surprising coming from a state that just sent Sharice Davids, a lesbian, to the U.S. House of Representatives (representing Johnson County, Wyandotte County, and part of Miami County) and two LGBTQ people, Susan Ruiz (Lenexa, Overland Park and Shawnee) and Brandon Woodard (Lenexa and Olathe), to the Kansas House.
The second bill is HB 2321, called the Optional Elevated Marriage Act. This bill would create a separate but equal system of marriage in the state.
Under the bill, same-sex marriage would be called “parody marriage.” Heterosexual marriages in which the parties agreed beforehand to a “higher standard of commitment” would be called “elevated marriages.” Straight couples in “elevated marriages” would be required to go through “authorized” marriage counseling before the wedding. They would also have to swear that they would “take all reasonable efforts to preserve our marriage, including marital counseling.” And to get a divorce, they would have to fulfill certain extra requirements.
Neither of these bills has a realistic chance of becoming law. Each would need 63 votes to pass the House, and that seems unlikely. But outrageous bills like these must be challenged.
LGBTQ rights have come so far. But the fight did not end with the 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that affirmed the LGBTQ community’s right to marry. Now we have to stand up and fight for the rights we struggled so hard to win.