Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order Tuesday afternoon rolling back discrimination protections for LGBT state employees.
The Republican governor's executive order affirms that workers cannot be fired or discriminated against due to their race, religion, gender, age or country of national origin. Neither the order nor the statement he issued accompanying it specifically address the loss of such protections for those who may face discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“This executive order ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional ‘protected classes’ as the previous order did,” Brownback said in the statement Tuesday. “Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action. The order also reaffirms our commitment to hiring, mentoring and recognizing veterans and individuals with disabilities.”
The protections were put in place by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2007 through an executive order.
Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, called the order an "outrage," according to The Kansas City Star, while House Democratic Leader Tom Burroughs said Brownback was creating a distraction and "playing to his base."
Burroughs added, "The bottom line is this: All Kansans deserve to be treated fairly and with respect and no Kansan should be denied equal protection under the law."
Brownback, a longtime leading conservative, has historically opposed LGBT rights and marriage equality.