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Kan. House panel to take up gay marriage response

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A Kansas House committee is preparing to debate legislation aimed at protecting individuals, groups and businesses that refuse for religious reasons to recognize same-sex unions or provide benefits to gay couples.

The Federal and State Affairs Committee's meeting Thursday comes amid an uncertain legal climate for states such as Kansas that ban same-sex marriage. Federal judges recently struck down bans in Oklahoma and Utah.

Supporters say the measure will protect religious freedom.

The bill says governmental entities cannot require individuals, businesses or religious groups to provide services, facilities, goods or employment benefits related to any marriage or domestic partnership. It also prohibits anti-discrimination lawsuits on such grounds.

Critics say the measure promotes discrimination against gays and lesbians and encourages government officials to ignore court rulings favoring gay marriage.