KANSAS: Gov. Sam Brownback Issues Executive Order On Religious Freedom
Gov. Sam Brownback issued an executive order Tuesday prohibiting state government from taking "discriminatory action" against a clergy member or religious organization that "chooses not to participate in a marriage that is inconsistent with its sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman." The order comes in the wake of last month's Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage. “We have a duty to govern and to govern in accordance with the Constitution as it has been determined by the Supreme Court decision," Brownback said in a statement. "We also recognize that religious liberty is at the heart of who we are as Kansans and Americans, and should be protected."Equality Kansas reacts:
Our initial interpretation of this order is simple: It’s one part scare tactics, one part ducking his constitutional responsibility. According to the order, clergy will not be required to officiate at same-sex marriages. No kidding. This has never happened, is not happening, and will never happen. This part of the order is nothing but political scare tactic. The rest of the order is more problematic. The plain language seems to suggest that religious organizations that have contracts to provide taxpayer-funded social services will be able to deny taxpayer-funded services to LGBT Kansans. We are still having this analyzed by our attorneys, but if this proves to be the case, the Governor should be prepared to find himself on the losing end of more expensive litigation. We are incredibly disappointed by Governor Brownback. Instead of treating LGBT Kansans fairly, his only act has been to double-down on treating us as second class citizens. We’re having our attorneys evaluate the specifics of the order.Back in January 2015, Brownback rescinded the previous administration's 2007 executive order which protected LGBT state workers from employment discrimination. He'd apparently had no issue with that order for his first four years in office, but he had do something after both the Tenth Circuit Court and SCOTUS refused to hear marriage appeals.