Kansas Gov. Issues Sweeping Religious Protections To Combat Marriages Of Same-Sex Couples

 
 
 

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback today signed a sweeping and far-reaching executive order in response to the Supreme Court's ruling on marriage for same-sex couples.

Stating "religious liberty is at the heart of who we are as Kansans and Americans, and should be protected," Republican Governor Sam Brownback today signed an executive order titled the "Preservation and Protection of Religious Freedom," in direct response to the Supreme Court's  ruling on marriage for same-sex couples.

"The Kansas Bill of Rights affirms the right to worship according to 'dictates of conscience' and further protects against any infringement of that right. Today's Executive Order protects Kansas clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in activities that violate their sincerely and deeply held beliefs," Brownback, a staunch anti-gay religious conservative said in a statement.

"While we disagree with the decision of the Supreme Court, it is important that all Kansans be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve."

The Topeka Capital-Journal's Jonathan Shorman reports that Brownback's executive order "appeared aimed at shielding religious and social organizations that oppose same-sex marriage from any potential loss of state aid or resources in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision granting gay couples the right to marry nationwide." 

Shorman further notes that conversely, Gov. Brownback's "order does not protect organizations in favor of same-sex marriage from discrimination by the state."

The executive order prohibits the State of Kansas from taking any action "against any individual clergy, religious leader, or religious organization on the basis that such person or organization believes or sincerely acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman."

In other words, any public restaurant, hotel, school, charity, adoption agency, etc., operated by a clergy member or "religious organization" is now allowed to discriminate against LGBT people, their families, and even their friends, should they wish.

If a same-sex couple wants to adopt a child, they likely just had their choices of agencies narrowed greatly. If a same-sex couple wants to enroll their children in a school operated by any religious institution, they could be refused.

Worse, let's say you're a gay person and are rushed to a Kansas hospital. If that hospital in any way is governed by a religious institution - and a great many are - they might refuse you services, or refuse to allow your spouse to make decisions for you, without any fear of state government interference. And if that hospital doesn't accept federal funds, they are entirely off the hook, allowed to treat you and your spouse any way they please.

Brownback's order applies to any religious organization, a term that is not defined. The Hobby Lobby case comes to mind, meaning a "religious organization" might not just be your neighborhood church.

The order covers those "providing social services," and those that "provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, celebration or recognition of any marriage, based upon or consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction."

The Topeka Capital-Journal's Jonathan Shorman reports that Brownback's executive order "appeared aimed at shielding religious and social organizations that oppose same-sex marriage from any potential loss of state aid or resources in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision granting gay couples the right to marry nationwide." 

Shorman further notes that conversely, Gov. Brownback's "order does not protect organizations in favor of same-sex marriage from discrimination by the state."

Kansas does not offer LGBT people any nondiscrimination protections.

UPDATE: 6:27 PM EDT -
Equality Kansas weighs in reminding us that Gov Brownback "who earlier this year criticized and rescinded former Governor Sebelius' 2007 non-discrimination order as an abuse of executive authority, has taken it upon himself to abuse the United States Constitution." 
Indeed, Brownback rescinded an eight-year old non-discrimination executive order that protected LGBT people.

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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