Kansas Rep. Macheers's Excuse for Discriminating Against Gay Folks: "Discrimination Is Horrible"
New Yorkers, as you haul yourself out into yet another carve-open-a-Tauntaun level snow day, you might be able to use a quick hit of "Oh, yeah, that's why I live here!" So, relish this: You are not represented by Charles Macheers.
Macheers, a Republican rep in the Kansas statehouse, recently introduced a bill that would make it legal for citizens and businesses in the state to refuse to recognize marriages and civil unions as a matter of "sincerely held religious belief" -- and to legalize the denial of goods, services, and even employee benefits to couples.
As Macheers has it, the bill's impetus is that no God-fearing Kansas florist should be forced to whip up bouquets for a gay wedding. To prevent that, Macheers would make it legal for any Kansas business or government official to deny basic services to any couple whose relationship that business owner/official finds offensive. Don't like your employees' new husband? Claim Baby Jesus told you he shouldn't get health insurance!
The bill passed the Kansas House on Wednesday by a margin of 72-49, which is extraordinary for a state that purports not to like the "God Hates Fags" crowd at the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka. It now moves the the state senate; if it passes there, it would go on to the desk of Tea Party-approved Governor Sam Brownback, who is no friend to gay Kansans despite -- seriously! -- once campaigning with T-shirts that read "I'm a Brownbacker." (I bought one at a thrift store once.)
On Wednesday Representative Macheers championed the bill on the house floor by insisting it is accomplishes the opposite of discrimination:
"Discrimination is horrible. It's hurtful. ... It has no place in civilized society, and that's precisely why we're moving this bill," he said. "There have been times throughout history where people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs because they were unpopular. This bill provides a shield of protection for that."
His argument, in short: A bakery that risks facing an anti-discrimination suit for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple = Daniel being chucked to the lions. In Macheers' bible, does Daniel stop to ask, "You're not going to enjoy it if I remove this thorn from your paw, are you? I mean, you are into lionesses, right?"
Or, simpler still: He's saying that it is discriminatory to compel Kansans not to be discriminatory.
Serious question: Would you rather be represented by this guy or that Staten Island "throw you over the balcony" yutz?
Three other things worth knowing:
1. The Kansas statehouse is in Topeka, a city full of great people whom I love dearly -- and it's also the town that decriminalized domestic violence in 2011. A city guided by biblical principle, Topeka boasts five strip clubs (six if you count the one in Scranton). Also, not a single person there has ever gotten divorced because then businesses might have to sell them things, which would make God cry lightning.
2. Right on his website Macheers announces, "I'd love to hear from you!" And, touchingly, he even includes his home address and phone number there for the whole internet to see. His office phone number is 785-296-7675; his e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a moment while you're waiting for your snow-delayed train, why not drop him a line? And if you want to send some of your used porn to his actual house -- media mail is cheap -- click on through to his site. I'm going to send him a personal apology from Thomas Jefferson for not sneaking "Oh, and none of this applies to people who love differently than you do" into the Bill of Rights.
3. Last time I was in Topeka, I bought a couple cresnuts, its version of the Cronut:
This is the restaurant:
The apostrophe indicates that it is owned by someone named Pizagel.
The cresnuts weren't bad, but they weren't a patch on the real thing. Also, before serving us, the nice young women behind the counter didn't bother to ask whether we were gay, because real people don't give a shit.
Topeka Cronuts: That's another reason to love New York, no matter how snowed in you are.
UPDATE: The children of Topeka's Fred Phelps, the original "God Hates Fags" guy, are yelling about this post on Twitter. That demonstrates one ugly truth: Kansans who support this bill under the guise of "religious freedom" are actually doing the work of Westboro Baptist.
Hey, you could do worse than following @studiesincrap on the Twitter thing.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.