"In this new up-is-down world, anti-gay religious folks are 'practicing their faith' when they're baking cakes or renting out hotel rooms to travelers."
Republicans lawmakers and a network of conservative religious groups has been pushing similar bills in other states, essentially forging a national campaign that, critics say, would legalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Republicans in South Dakota, Idaho, Oregon, and Tennessee recently introduced provisions that mimic the Kansas legislation. And Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma, Hawaii, and Mississippi have introduced broader "religious freedom" bills with a unique provision that would also allow people to deny services or employment to LGBT Americans, legal experts say.
"This is a concerted campaign that the Religious Right has been hinting at for a couple of years now," says Evan Hurst, associate director of Truth Wins Out, a Chicago-based nonprofit that promotes gay rights. "The fact that they're doing it Jim Crow-style is remarkable, considering the fact that one would think the GOP would like to be electable among people under 50 sometime in the near future."