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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, center, speaks to the media in his statehouse office, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 in Topeka, Kan. The Kansas Senate will not pass a bill in its current form that would prevent lawsuits against someone who refuses, for religious reasons, to provide services to gays and lesbians, the chamber's president said Friday. (AP Photo/Topeka Capital-Journal, Thad Allton)
The Coo-Coo Games, Utah vs Kansas ...

My old state and my new state continue to go for the gold in the competition to be the kookiest state in the nation.

First, Utah drops big bucks on a irrational argument trying to defend its anti-gay discriminatory Amendment 3.

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State makes it all about kids in brief against same-sex marriage — The Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 4

Then, the Kansas House passes a bill that would allow both private businesses and government employees to discriminate against same-sex couples (and just about anyone else) whose behavior offends their religious beliefs.

Kansas House passes bill allowing service refusal to gay couples — Kansas City Star, Feb. 12

(Though word is that many in the Sunflower State Legislature are having second, or first, thoughts.)

Then

Sponsor of Kansas spanking bill says it would help define corporal punishment, restore parental rights — Wichita Eagle, Feb. 18

(Maybe doesn’t count. That bill has already died in committee.)

Then

Utah lawmaker: Our atmosphere needs more carbon dioxide — Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 18

Then

Kan. House panel shortens, adopts climate measure — Hutchinson News, Feb. 19

"... The nonbinding resolution says the plan released by the president last year would harm the economy and asks Congress to block it. Obama’s plan includes tougher pollution standards for power plants and higher vehicle fuel efficiency standards. ..."

(Hard to tell how to score this one. Utah’s big on climate change denial. But the higher fuel efficiency standards are a big part of what Utah is banking on to clean up the air along the Wasatch Front.)

Then

Backers of Kan. sex ed bill seek parental control — Wichita Eagle, Feb. 18

(But that sort of doesn’t count, because it’s basically an opt-in requirement, which isn’t that different from what Utah already has.)

Then

Upset Utah mom buys all ‘indecent’ PacSun shirts — Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 19

(But that sort of doesn’t count, either, because there are no elected officials involved — yet — in this one. It is also getting a lot of clicks on Kansas newspaper websites, so they know they’ve been challenged.)

Hey! Who let Idaho into this contest?

Idaho’s New Anti-Gay Bill: Doctors and Teachers Can Turn Away Gays — Mark Joseph Stern | Slate

Commentary:

House didn’t heed warning on HB 2453 — Wichita Eagle Editorial

"Republicans in the Kansas House should have heeded the warnings of Democrats and others, including this editorial board, about House Bill 2453, the Religious Freedom Act. If they had, they could have spared themselves and the state a lot of embarrassment. ..."

Exit strategy — Hutchinson (Kan.) News Editorial

"Members of the Kansas Legislature should do themselves – and the state – a favor by closing up shop, heading home for the spring and bringing to an early end one of the most embarrassing lawmaking sessions in recent memory. ..."

Legislative focus — Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World Editorial

"Having passed two-year budgets last year for most state-funded entities, Kansas legislators now seem to have some extra time on their hands — time to pursue questionable legislative action on a number of issues. ..."

Religious liberty or anti-gay animus? — Andrew Sullivan | The Dish

" ... The bar on divorce – which, unlike the gay issue, is upheld directly by Jesus in the Gospels – is just as integral to the Catholic meaning of marriage as the prohibition on gay couples. So why no laws including that potential violation of religious liberty? ..."



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