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Brownback Ends Protections for LGBT Kansas State Employees

Governor Sam Brownback. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has overturned an executive order that protected many state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The order he rescinded was put into place by former Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

Her order had barred executive branch state agencies from discriminating in hiring and employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Doug Bonney, with the ACLU of Kansas, says the move comes as a surprise.


“It’s a very sad and unfortunate sign that we are going backwards in time in terms of state protections against employment discrimination. It’s too bad,” says Bonney.

Bonney says Kansas anti-discrimination laws don’t include sexual orientation.

Should LGBT state employees should be worried about their jobs? Here's Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley.


"Absolutely not. What we look for in employees are good, hard-working, talented employees," says Hawley.

Brownback says current law protects state employees, and all Kansans, from discrimination based on race, religion, gender and other factors. He says any additional protections should be passed by the Legislature, not put into place by executive action.

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Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has overturned an executive order that had protected many state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The executive order had been put into place in 2007 by former Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

Tom Witt, with the group Equality Kansas, says LGBT state employees don’t have any other protections under Kansas law.


“This is their sole protection in the workplace. Now they can be harassed, denied promotions and fired for no other reason than their sexual orientation,” says Witt.

Brownback says the state Legislature, not the governor, should be creating civil rights protections.

A spokesperson for the governor, Eileen Hawley, says LGBT state workers shouldn’t fear for their jobs.


"So right now, everyone in Kansas has the same civil rights protections. And I think any employee here, we’re just looking for talented, good, hard-working employees,” says Hawley.

Kansas law protects against discrimination based on race, religion, gender and other factors. State law does not include protections for sexual orientation.

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