Withdrawing my signature from 6 House bills
I recently co-sponsored these bills in the Kansas House, and I wish to inform my constituents that this was a mistake. I have attempted to withdraw my signature from these bills.
The mistake I made was not reading the bills prior to signing them, and this led to the error I have made in co-sponsoring that legislation. I take full responsibility for the fact that I erred in not reading the bills.
The circumstances surrounding the signing of the bills were most unusual. I was informed about the bills on the morning of Feb. 13 (the last day bills could be filed in committees). Due to previously scheduled meetings which I attended that day, I was not able to read the bills. At approximately 3pm I was informed that the bills had to be submitted by 5pm and that I needed to sign them immediately.
I was due at my 3:30pm meeting within minutes, so I stopped by the sponsor’s office in hopes of reading the bills. Several other representatives arrived before me to read them. So I signed them before my meeting. I did not have time to read them before I signed them.
I’ve always been a supporter of religious liberty and religious freedom, and it was my understanding the bills dealt with those issues. Obviously, that was not the case. Upon learning the content of the bills, I met with the sponsoring representative, and I informed him that I did not agree with the content and intended to remove my name from the bills.
I inquired via leadership regarding the procedure to remove my name and was informed that due to procedural obstacles, it would probably be impossible to have my name removed, as I needed 100% approval from all members of the House. The other party has been reluctant to provide this approval, as they like to use the issue in future elections. Thus, my other avenue is to inform my constituents via this statement that I was not aware Chris Sevier was the author of the bills. I thought it was Rep. Garber, whom I have known for years, and who has never expressed these viewpoints, but has always been a supporter of religious liberty and religious freedom and respect for others, as I have also been.
Supporting religious liberty – the right way
I continue to be a staunch supporter of religious liberty. I signed these bills because I understood them to be about religious liberty, not the hateful things that were actually written in the bill. I didn’t do my job properly, and I regret that. My hope and expectation is that these bills never make it out of their respective committees.
I also believe differing opinions should be heard and responded to respectfully. But many people do not believe that. Based on the hate mail I received, there is little tolerance among some for differing viewpoints. Many of the hateful comments from the opponents of this proposed legislation were abhorrent, and showed absolutely no respect for contrasting points of view.
I have posted below several comments from constituents who contacted me regarding this legislation, so you can see for yourself what we’re dealing with:
“Rot in hell for the anti LGBT house bill”
“Take your hatred and intolerance and leave Kansas”
“These legislative attempts are an abomination… those of you and your constituents who are so thoroughly invested in denigrating gay marriage and in clutching your pearls or cow pies at the thought of diversity in this state are totally outnumbered by Kansans who are tired of (expletive) running the legislature in this state.”
“At this point, I assume your white, republican, privileged self will stop reading.”
“The language presented in these two bills is simply designed to hurt people.”
“Your disgusting and hateful legislation”