TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas House members have given first-round approval to a bill aimed at protecting people, groups and businesses that cite religious reasons for refusing to provide goods or services for gay weddings.
The vote Tuesday was 72-42. The measure advanced even though critics claimed the bill would encourage widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The House plans to take final action on the bill Wednesday, and it's likely to pass.
The bill bars government sanctions for refusing to recognize a marriage or civil union, or to provide goods or services to a couple. Anti-discrimination lawsuits also would be barred.
Critics have zeroed in on limited protections in the bill for individual workers and government employees even if their employers want to provide goods and services to gay couples.
Supporters of the bill on the House's agenda Tuesday 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.