Kansas Governor Sam Brownback [official website] signed into law on Tuesday a religious freedom bill [materials] that allows religious student organizations to base acceptance on sincerely held religious beliefs. Senate Bill 175 [text, PDF], known as the post secondary religious freedom bill, would allow student organizations to assert religious beliefs as a reason to not accept or to dismiss members. The bill states:
No postsecondary educational institution may take any action or enforce any policy that would deny a religious student association any benefit available to any other student association, or discriminate against a religious student association with respect to such benefit, based on such association’s requirement that the leaders or members of such association: (a) Adhere to the association’s sincerely held religious beliefs; (b) comply with the association’s sincerely held religious beliefs; (c) comply with the association’s sincere religious standards of conduct; or (d) be committed to furthering the association’s religious missions, as such religious beliefs, observance requirements, standards of conduct or missions are defined by the religious student association, or the religion on which the association is based.
The controversial bill took over a year to pass because many were afraid that it would be used to discriminate [Wichita Eagle report] against LGBT students.
The Georgia state legislature [official website] on Thursday approved a bill [text, PDF] to allow [JURIST report] faith-based establishments, including churches, schools and other organizations, to refuse service or employment to same-sex couples based on their religious beliefs. LGBT rights, as well as freedom of religious practice, remain controversial issues in the US. At least 19 states have enacted some variety of religious freedom laws, most modeled after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act [text] signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993. The Kentucky Senate recently approved a bill [JURIST report] allowing businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians based upon their religious beliefs. Earlier this month Missouri lawmakers approved a proposal [JURIST report] to provide similar religious protections to individuals and businesses in opposition to gay marriage.