Gay-rights advocates rally at Kansas Statehouse

Gay rights rally

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Dozens of Kansans have rallied at the Statehouse in favor of gay rights and to protest legislation that they argued would encourage discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Nearly 200 people gathered Tuesday afternoon for the event staged by the gay-rights group Equality Kansas and several other organizations. They also lobbied legislators.

They oppose a bill prohibiting government fines and anti-discrimination lawsuits when people, groups and businesses cite their religious beliefs in refusing to provide goods, services, accommodations or employment benefits to gay and lesbian couples.

Backers said the measure protects gay-marriage opponents from being punished for following their religious beliefs in refusing to be involved in same-sex ceremonies.

The House passed the bill earlier this month. The Senate Judiciary Committee is having hearings on religious freedom issues next week.

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