Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev unilaterally announced new limits on adoption by gay couples on Thursday, perhaps because he missed the head of the International Olympic Committee's timid remarks about equality at the Sochi Opening Ceremony. But before you get too cocky, Americans: the Kansas House just passed similarly ridiculous legislation.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, Medvedev's decree is an amendment to an existing Russian ban on adoptions of Russian children by gay couples. The new rule clarifies that married gay couples — as in, couples married in countries where gay marriage is legal — may not adopt children form Russia. And, what's more, even single people in those countries aren't allowed to adopt Russian kids because, you know, what if it is part of an evil gay plot to adopt a kid while pretending to be single and then whammo getting gay-married just to trick the Russians?
The Russian government seems a bit obsessed on the interaction of gay people and children. In welcoming visitors to Sochi for the Olympics, President Vladimir Putin said gays were allowed, but to stay away from children. The idea that gay people are more likely to sexually assault children is a deeply rooted component of homophobia, and one that has been repeatedly debunked. Once a common belief in America, it's now generally understood to be nonsense.
Not that America has come to terms with its gay issues! For example: The Kansas state House passed a bill on Tuesday that would allow businesses to deny employees services and benefits on the basis of their sexuality, as the Huffington Post reports. The site quotes the bill's sponsor, Rep. Charles Macheers, who is explaining why the new rule allowing discrimination against gays is important: because of religious freedom.
"Discrimination is horrible. It’s hurtful … It has no place in civilized society, and that’s precisely why we’re moving this bill," Macheers said. "There have been times throughout history where people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs because they were unpopular. This bill provides a shield of protection for that."
Yes, discrimination is terrible, so we must let people discriminate, lest their right to discriminate be discriminated against.
What's happening in Kansas is different than the Russian decree; it is just one branch of a state legislature looking to rescind established protections. But in another sense, it's just an update to the outdated concerns that are making Russian an international embarrassment.