Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback Rescinds Sebelius Order Protecting LGBT Workers

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, ignoring prospective critics arguing for the LGBT movement, rescinded an executive order issued in 2007 by former Governor Kathleen Sebelius that expanded laws specifically protecting LGBT state workers.

Brownback’s executive order was simple enough; his office released a statement saying the order “reaffirms the commitment of the State of Kansas to employment practices which do not discriminate based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry or age. It further establishes that state entities will implement employment management practices for veterans and disabled individuals that include outreach, hiring, support, mentoring, development, rewards and recognition for achievement.”

The order from Sebelius, on the other hand, required “agencies under the governor’s direct control to ensure they have programs to prevent harassment against gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and people who have had surgery for sex changes,” according to the New York Times.

Brownback issued another order urging employers to look after veterans and disabled individuals by using outreach, support, mentoring, development, rewards, and recognition for achievement, as well as more hiring.

The Kansas governor pointed out that any sentiments similar to the ones Sebelius favored should be implemented by the legislature, not through executive order. He said, “This Executive Order ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional ‘protected classes’ as the previous order did. Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action. The order also reaffirms our commitment to hiring, mentoring and recognizing veterans and individuals with disabilities.” His order eliminates several advisory groups, which he claimed are unnecessary.

LGBT supporters railed against Brownback; Doug Bonney, legal director of the ACLU of Kansas, said to the Huffington Post, “When an executive repeals that kind of order, it sends a terrible, terrible sign that we don’t care about this — these people are not deserving of protections, we’re going to go backwards. That’s against the flow of history, frankly.”

Marty Rouse, The Human Rights Campaign’s field director, snapped, “For eight years, LGBT state employees have been guaranteed non-discrimination protections and in one foul, reckless, and shameful decision, Governor Brownback has taken the state backward. His deplorable behavior is a direct assault on fairness and equality in the state.”

Bonney indulged in some paranoia, concluding, “If their bosses don’t like gay folks, for instance, it’ll be open season.”


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