TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas House has approved a bill aimed at keeping individuals, groups and businesses from being compelled to help with same-sex weddings.
The House's 72-49 vote Wednesday sends the measure to the Senate.
Supporters describe it as a religious freedom measure. Opponents contend it will encourage discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The bill would bar government sanctions when individuals, groups and businesses cite religious beliefs in refusing to recognize a marriage or civil union, or to provide goods, services, accommodations or employment benefits to a couple. Anti-discrimination lawsuits also would be barred. Individual workers and government employees also would get some protections.
The leading gay-rights group in Kansas contends the state House's Democratic leader has not taken a strong enough stance against a bill the groups says would sanction discrimination.
Equality Kansas State Chairwoman Sandra Meade criticized House Minority Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence even though Davis voted against the bill Wednesday.
In a statement Tuesday, Davis suggested debate on the bill was a distraction from more serious economic and education issues. Meade said it's disappointing that a Democratic leader wouldn't see a call to action to fight discrimination.
Davis declined comment Wednesday.
The measure is a response to the possibility that the federal courts could invalidate the state constitution's ban on same-sex marriages.