Same-sex marriages and gay rights in Kansas
2019-FEB: Bills in the KS
Legislature concerning LGBT
discrimination & same-sex marriage:
There has been a flurry of political activity in the Kansas Legislature concerning sexual orientation:
- At the 2018 midterm election,
Brandon Woodard (D) and Susan Ruiz (D) became the first openly LGBT members of the Kansas Legislature.
- Various bills were introduced to the Kansas' Legislature in early 2019 that would:
- Prohibit discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community throughout the state.
- Label all same-sex marriages as "Parody Marriages" and would terminate their recognition by the state. 3
- Refer to opposite-sex marriages as "elevated marriages," and make some divorces more difficult.
The lead sponsor of the "parody" bill is Randy Garber (R). He said that same-sex marriages:
"... probably ... [don't] affect me. Their union or whatever you want to call it. But in my opinion, they're trying to force their beliefs on society." 5
He also said:
"So this bill is to say the state should stay out of religious unions. The state has always said that they will not interfere, or that they will not promote one religion over another. Well now, they are promoting secular humanism over all other forms of religion." 5
Garber's comment is clearly incorrect. Allowing same-sex couples to marry is supported by most liberal and mainline Christians, liberal and mainline wings of other religons, Agnostics, Atheists, secular Humanists, Wiccans, other Neopagans, and many others.
If either of the two anti-LGBT/pro-discriminatory bills are passed by the legislature, they would have little chance of being signed into law by the current pro-equality Democratic governor. Even if they did become law, there would probably be an immediate challenge in the courts, because the laws would seriously conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015-JUN. It legalized same-sex marriage across the entire United States with the exception of American Samoa.
2017 to 2019: Democratic and Republican Governors sign orders regarding discrimination against LGBT state employees:
In a game of musical chairs by the Governors:
- Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) was governor of Kansas from 2003 to 2009. During 2007, she signed an executive order that protected (LGBT state employees against harassment, firing, or discrimination.
- A subsequent governor, Sam Brownback (R), was in office from 2011 to 2018. During 2015, he signed an executive order which terminated Sebelius' order, thus exposing LGBT state employees to discrimination once more. 1
- Laura Kelly (D) was elected governor during the midterm elections in 2019-NOV. On NOV-06, election day, she reaffirmed her promise to reinstate Governor Sebelius' prevous executive order and restore LGBT protections. She said:
I am planning to actually have an executive order drafted before I take office." 2,4
Tom Witt, director of Equality Kansas, said:
"We’re quite pleased she’s keeping her campaign promise and we’re not surprised," 4
He also said that the proposed anti-LGBT legislation represents the:
"... most vile, hateful and disrespectful legislation" [that he has seen in 14 years as a lobbyist.] The sponsors should be ashamed of themselves. Every year, we see bills that restrict, remove, and limit the rights of LGBT Kansans, but never have we seen this level of extremist vitriol laid out in legislative language. These bills combined are 18 pages of insults and name calling."
Referring to Fred Phelps, who headed the strongly anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, he said:
"Fred Phelps would be proud."
Governor Kelly kept her promise. Signing the execcutive order was her first official act. 2 She said:
"As I have said numerous times before, discrimination of any kind has no place in Kansas and it will not be tolerated in this administration. We will ensure that state workers feel safe and supported in their working environment." 4
Her executive order goes further than Governor Sebelius' (D) past order. It extends protection beyond state employees to include workers for state contractors. It also creates a program to support persons with disabilities and requires agencies to develop affirmative action plans.
Tom Witt said:
"It’s an important message to businesses and everybody else in Kansas that this is going to be a place where fairness and equality are valued and promoted." 2
Witt is aware of seven people who have been fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 2
However, Rep. Steve Huebert, (R) is skeptical. He said:
"To me, there’s more important issues to be working on and I don’t think in the last eight years there’s been any huge problems for people that were discriminated against. At the end of the day, it’s an easy way for Brownback and an easy way for the governor to speak to their base. Does it change anything in the long run? Probably not."
The executive order is restricted to those executive branch agencies that are directly under the Governor's control. Employees of the legislators, for example, are not protected.
State Senator. Mary Pilcher-Cook, (R) criticized the order. She said that it is:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Bryan Lowry,"Gov. Sam Brownback rescinds protection for gay and transgender state workers," The Witchita Eagle, 2015-FEB-11, at: https://www.kansas.com/
- Jonathan Shorman, "Kelly reinstates protections for LGBT state workers in Kansas eliminated by Brownback," 2019-JAN-15, at: https://www.kansas.com/
- Jonathan Shorman & Bryan Lowry, "Kansas lawmakers sponsor bill calling same-sex marriages ‘parody’," The Witchita Eagle, 2019-FEB-13, at: https://www.kansas.com/
- Jonathan Shorman, "Kelly will reinstate protections for LGBT state workers in Kansas," The Witchita Eagle, 2018-NOV-08, at: https://www.kansas.com/
- Jonathan Shorman & Bryan Lowry, "Kansas lawmakers sponsor bill calling same-sex marriages 'parody'," The Emporia Gazette, 2019-FEB-13, at: http://www.emporiagazette.com/
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Copyright © 2019 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally published: 2019-FEB-14
Author: Bruce A Robinson