Backlash continues over religious freedom bill

NEWTON, Kansas – The sign went up Thursday morning, the day after House Bill 2453 passed.

“I wondered if there were gonna be repercussions, but I just decided to go ahead, I decided it was worth it.”

For Leaf Tea Lounge owner Pandea Smith, her opinion on the bill, meant to protect those who, for religious reasons, don’t want to serve same sex couples, is clear. It discriminates unfairly.

“At first, I was telling myself, oh, don’t worry about it because it’ll be overthrown, something like that can’t stay in place, but then I realized that there would be a lot of people hurt by that bill before it got overthrown so I decided that I needed to speak out,” said Smith.

So far, reaction to the sign has been positive, and Smith says she hasn’t seen anyone turn away because of the sign.

Some people say at the end of the day, it serves a good purpose starting meaningful conversation.

“I just think that we ought to be able to live. There shouldn’t be discrimination, and there shouldn’t be imposed morality. It doesn’t mean you can’t make judgments, but you gotta have at least some semblance of decency, civility,” said Mike Davis, Newton.

But others say the issue isn’t so cut and dry, and agree that the bill does have some merit.

“I do believe it’s the business owner’s right to choose, who he or she decides not to serve,” said Chris Kratzer, Wichita.

Smith said she doesn’t have any plans to take the sign down any time soon until some progress is made with the legislation.

She considers this her public point about the bill, but she also says that she sent letters to her representation to make sure they get the message too.


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