Kansas governor rescinds executive order protecting LGBT employees

Kansas governor rescinds executive order protecting LGBT employees

[JURIST] Kansas Governor Sam Brownback [official website] on Tuesday rescinded [press release] a number of executive orders by the former governor, including one that protected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) state employees from unfair hiring practices, sexual harassment and other types of discrimination at work. The previous executive order [text, PDF] by former governor Kathleen Sebelius spoke of equality amongst all citizens of Kansas and promoted diversity in the workplace. Thomas Witt, the Executive Director of Equality Kansas [advocacy website] said in a statement [press release] Tuesday, “[t]his action by the governor is an outrage. … If you work for the state and have felt comfortable being ‘out’ at work knowing you had protection from bigotry, that protection is gone.” Even though the governor has removed protection for state employees, several private companies within the state have adopted their own type of protection for LGBT employees.

As in much of the world, LGBT rights remain controversial in Kansas. In November the Kansas Supreme Court [official website] decided [JURIST report] to allow same-sex marriage licenses to be issued in the most populous county in Kansas. Johnson County had begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in October—a practice that was challenged in state court. Before this decision, US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor had issued an order [JURIST report] blocking same-sex marriage in Kansas after Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt [official website] asked the Supreme Court for an injunction. In October 2005 the Kansas Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that illegal underage sex cannot be punished more harshly if it is homosexual.