Aimee Patton

A pleasantly eccentric take on politics


February 14, 2014

News moves fast here in Kansas.  This was my article for the KC Star this Sat.  Turns out – the bill died in the Senate and AT&T did come out against the HB2453 bill in Kansas.  From the AT&T  press release:

“As a major employer and retailer in Kansas, we strongly urge the Kansas Senate to reject HB 2453,” AT&T Kansas President Steve Hahn said in a release. “This legislation is impossible to implement. The bill promotes discriminatory behavior by businesses against their customers; and, it interferes with AT&T’s management of our employees. It eliminates the use of fair business practices with customers in Kansas. We applaud Senator Wagle’s leadership in pointing out the variety of problems with the bill.”

Well done AT&T.  You have gained a loyal customer.

Enjoy,

Aimee

 

The 2014 Olympics is underway in Sochi, Russia. Much of the buzz surrounding this Olympics has been around Russia’s tough, anti-gay laws.
Russia has a law called the “anti-propaganda against nontraditional sexual relations” law. Whew… that’s a mouthful. This law prohibits many Russians from
speaking out in favor of gay rights, marching in gay pride parades and often penalizes gay rights groups in Russia with high fines.
It is so bad, that some U.S. Olympic sponsors have come out against the anti-gay laws in Russia. AT&T, a long-standing U.S. Olympic sponsor, came out publicly on its consumer blog writing an entry titled “A Time for Pride and Equality.”
From the blog: “AT&T has a long and proud history of support for the LGBT community in the United States and everywhere around the world where we do business. We support LGBT equality globally and we condemn violence, discrimination and harassment targeted against LGBT individuals everywhere. Russia’s law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it’s harmful to a diverse society.”
Take that Russia. AT&T is standing up and shining a light on the LGBT discrimination in Russia. AT&T stands up for the LGBT community and condemns discrimination unless.… Wait there is an unless?
Yes, unless you are gay and in Kansas. That’s just crazy talk. Kansas is no Russia when it comes to anti-gay policy.
There is a world of difference between the two. Or is there?
I give you exhibit A — Kansas HB 2453 or the Act Concerning Religious Freedom with Respect to Marriage Bill. HB2453 says that it doesn’t matter if gay marriage is found to be legal and recognized — no business or individual with “sincerely held religious beliefs” needs to recognize the marriage or provide services, employment benefits or anything else for that matter to gay couples.
Here’s the kicker — there is language in the bill that says that gay people can’t sue for discrimination to challenge the law or the decision of the business owner. If I’m a hotel owner and a gay couple wants to stay at my hotel to celebrate their wedding, I don’t have to give them a room and can claim it’s against my sincere religious beliefs.
Supporters of the bill say providing goods and services to gay couples against the employer’s religious freedom is an attack on the First Amendment.
Now what does this have to do with AT&T? From the “things that make you go hmmm…” file — AT&T invests millions in the state of Kansas. In the first half of 2013, AT&T invested $110 million in capital investments in the state.
It’s kind of odd that they would condemn Russia’s laws, but still continue to invest millions in a state with similar LGBT discrimination laws making its way through the Legislature. Lets’ face it Kansas is just one drink of strong Russian vodka away from enacting the same type of anti-gay laws that Russia is notorious for.
AT&T, I ask you take it one step further and condemn this anti-gay law here in Kansas. Big business has a big voice when it comes to shaping legislation outcomes. Believe me, with the type of money AT&T invests in our state, it will have the ears of our Kansas Legislature if the corporation speaks up against this law.
I have faith that AT&T’s strong stand against discrimination won’t stop after the Olympics are long gone. Keep up the great work, AT&T, and take a stand right here in Kansas.

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6 thoughts on “#KSLEG HB2453 dies a glorious death!

  1. JC K says:

    Please don’t post that article. It came from a capital newsletter that is copyrighted. Sorry.

  2. Dr. Ernest Evans says:

    Dear Ms. Aimee: Thank you for a most thoughtful article about the bill in Kansas concerning conscience rights and gay rights. I guess what I would have to say about this bill is that it does address a real issue, but did not do it properly. The real issue is the right of religious believers to not have to engage in behavior that is deeply offensive to their beliefs. And, our nation has long, to its credit, recognized such a right: Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have to say the Pledge, Quakers are free from being drafted to serve in combat. However, this right of believers has always been qualified that this right does not give believers the right to victimize others–one may believe it is immoral for blacks and whites to eat together, but if one has a restaurant one cannot under the law refuse service to blacks. And that is where the Kansas law went much too far: It could easily have been the basis for a lot of “Jim Crow”-type behavior toward gay people. Now, having said that, let me note in conclusion that in our society if we are going to avoid a political disaster we are going to have to accept we cannot allow what I call “coercive acquiescence”. I see “coercive acquiescence” as attempts to make those who disagree with abortion or gay marriage accept these ideas–the classic current example is efforts to force Catholic doctors and medical personnel to perform abortions. The more extreme elements of the pro-choice and pro-gay marriage groups are big into “coercive acquiescence”–if they push too far down this road we will have a Second Civil War. On these controversial issues like abortion and gay marriage the supporters on both sides are going to have to face a hard truth: If we are going to avoid a Second Civil War, they are all going to have to compromise. Take care and God bless!! Sincerely, Respectfully and In Christ, Ernest Evans (Your No. 1 Fan!!)

    1. Thanks for the comment and for being a fan!

      1. Dr. Ernest Evans says:

        Not Just a Fan–Your No. 1 Fan!! In Christ, Ernest Evans

  3. Jim L says:

    Speaking of thoughts on everything…were we? I any event, I ran across an interesting posting from Robert Reich the other day that I really think is worth some consideration and much more discussion. Check out his full post at http://robertreich.org/.

    “America has a serious “We” problem — as in “Why should we pay for them?”
    “The pronouns “we” and “they” are the most important of all political words. They demarcate who’s within the sphere of mutual responsibility, and who’s not. Someone within that sphere who’s needy is one of “us” — an extension of our family, friends, community, tribe – and deserving of help. But needy people outside that sphere are “them,” presumed undeserving unless proved otherwise.
    The central political question faced by any nation or group is where the borders of this sphere of mutual responsibility are drawn.”
    It’s easier to be generous and expansive about the sphere of ”we” when incomes are rising and future prospects seem even better, as during the first three decades after World War II when America declared war on poverty and expanded civil rights. But since the late 1970s, as most paychecks have flattened or declined, adjusted for inflation, many in the stressed middle no longer want to pay for “them.”

    Yet this doesn’t explain why so many wealthy America’s are also exiting. They’ve never been richer. Surely they can afford a larger “we.” But most of today’s rich adamantly refuse to pay anything close to the tax rate America’s wealthy accepted forty years ago.

    Perhaps it’s because, as inequality has widened and class divisions have hardened, America’s wealthy no longer have any idea how the other half lives.

    Being rich in today’s America means not having to come across anyone who isn’t. Exclusive prep schools, elite colleges, private jets, gated communities, tony resorts, symphony halls and opera houses, and vacation homes in the Hamptons and other exclusive vacation sites all insulate them from the rabble.

    America’s wealthy increasingly inhabit a different country from the one “they” inhabit, and America’s less fortunate seem as foreign as do the needy inhabitants of another country. ”

    What do you think Aimee? I don’t like to think that any real problem can be explained with a few clever turns of phrase or a few hundred words of detail but I also do hold that there may well be some truth to what Mr. Reich proposes. I continue to be disturbed and genuinely disappointed in what is happening in America. Why were we able to accomplish so many wonderful things in the past that — seemingly — we can no longer afford? Things such as benefits, healthcare, modern infrastructure, leadership in education, real strides in equality, etc. Are we living in an age of “we” and “they”?

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