If I asked you a week ago to describe Kansas what would you say? What hashtags would you give it? #Farms #Boring #Squarestate #Flyoverstate #Corn #DorothyandToto #IknownothingaboutKansas
Kansas is simply one of those states that doesn’t really have a strong reputation beyond Dorothy and Toto. If I asked you to pick out Kansas on a blank map could you do it? Not being know for anything isn’t always a bad thing though. It means there’s still the possibility of making a great first impression. Example: Iowa. The American public knows as much about Iowa as it does about Kansas. Maybe even less. However Iowans gave a great first impression to the nation when they were Midwest pioneers allowing for gay marriage years before New York and California. I might not know a lot about the state but I know one very important fact that makes Iowans instantly cool. Rock on Iowa!
In a WTF moment, the crazy conservatives in Kansas drafted a bill that would allow any business or government representative to discriminate against gay people. Actually the bill is so loosely worded that the discrimination can be brought against anyone not meeting their undefined Christian standards. I picture them watching the winter Olympics in Sochi and thinking, “Ya know, those Russians are really on to something with all that gay bashing. What a good idea.” I read an Op-Ed piece in the Kansas City Star who’s headline said it all: “Discriminatory bill embarrasses Kansas” The article also mentions that the people who wrote the bill tried to do damage control by saying they only meant for the law to be applied to wedding services. For example, if you were a bakery owner you could legally refuse to sell a cake to a lesbian couple getting married. I’m so glad they clarified that…
The word segregation has been used over and over again in news stories about this bill. There aren’t many other words in the English language that bring to mind such a clear image and piece of awful American history. It’s a word so antiquated that I was surprised to see it used again in current event news. There’s a lot of headlines that are passed around the internet that can be misread or taken out of context. This is not one of those cases. This is a real life situation where a state government is trying legalize discrimination. It should be noted that the bill has not been signed into law yet so luckily there is still hope of avoiding a trip back in time to the 1950’s.
Until now Kansas has stayed under the radar for the most part. But now one of the first major news stories to circulate about them is extremely negative. We’re talking history book level negative. Without any other information to judge it against, many Americans will now associate Kansas with hatred and discrimination. If they were BP, this would be their oil spill.
Good Luck Kansas. I hope good wins out.
I also thought this would be a perfect opportunity to get to know Kansas better. Here are the basic fact and figures for the Sunflower State:
Population: 2,893,957 (2013 estimate)
Largest City: Wichita
Persons per square mile: 34.9
Land area: 81,758 square miles.
Governor: Sam Brownback (until January 2015)
Entered the union in 1861 as the 34th state
Motto: To the stars through difficulties
The name Kansas comes from from a Sioux word meaning “people of the south wind.”
As a point of reference:
City of Houston, TX population: 2,201,027 (does not include surrounding cities such as Sugar Land or The Woodlands)
City of Chicago, IL population 2,714,856