Scroll To Top

Kansas governor
OK's some protections for gays

Kansas governor
OK's some protections for gays

Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius signed an executive order Friday prohibiting most state employees from being discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation.

The order, effective immediately, requires that agencies under the Democratic governor's direct control make sure they have programs to prevent on-the-job harassment against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and people who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery. It covers about 25,000 of the state's 41,000 employees.

''I'm sorry it took us so long,'' Sebelius said after signing the order in front of two dozen activists. She also endorsed a bill in the Republican-dominated legislature that would prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing and private employment.

Antidiscrimination laws offering at least some protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people exist in about 20 states, according to the civil rights group Human Rights Campaign. Sebelius said most of the nation's largest private companies have policies like the one she set Friday, and the Kansas Equality Coalition said Shawnee County and the cities of Lawrence, Mission, and Topeka do as well.

''We need to make sure in Kansas that all of our employees are treated with dignity and respect and that the doors to state employment are open to all,'' Sebelius said. ''It was just clear we were behind the times.''

Kansas voters rewrote the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage in 2005. Among Republicans who supported that effort, reaction to Sebelius's order was mixed.

Rep. Mike O'Neal, of Hutchinson, said the governor has the power to set such policies for the executive branch, but Rep. Arlen Siegfried, of Olathe, said she was stepping into legislators' territory.

''I can almost guarantee you that will be a topic of legislative discussion,'' said Siegfried, chairman of the house committee that would consider such an issue.

Sebelius's order also strengthened existing language to see that Kansans with disabilities are treated fairly in employment decisions. (John Hanna, AP)

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Outtraveler Staff