US: Kansas governor removes protections for LGBT workers
The Governor of Kansas has rescinded an order that protected LGBT workers from discrimination.
Republican Governor Sam Brownback – who took office in 2011 – this week acted to remove an order first implemented by former Democratic governor Kathleen Sebelius in 2007.
The executive order installed basic protection from discrimination for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people.
He replaced it with a new executive order, removing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from the list of protected characteristics.
Tom Witt of Equality Kansas said: “It’s an outrage — an absolute outrage. I can conceive of no justifiable reason for doing this.”
Mr Brownback said: “This [new] Executive Order ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional ‘protected classes’ as the previous order did.
“Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action.
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“Executive Order 15-02 reaffirms the commitment of the State of Kansas to employment practices which do not discriminate based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry or age.
“It further establishes that state entities will implement employment management practices for veterans and disabled individuals that include outreach, hiring, support, mentoring, development, rewards and recognition for achievement.”
Equality Kansas added: “Gay, lesbian, and transgender state employees across Kansas have trusted they would be safe from discrimination and harassment in their workplace but Sam Brownback has, by erasing their job protections, declared ‘open season’ on every one of them.
“If you work for the state, and have felt comfortable being ‘out’ at work knowing you had protection from bigotry, that protection is gone.
“If you work for the state, your measure of job performance is no longer the quality of your work, but rather who you love and go home to at the end of the day.
“It is a sad day for Kansas – not just for the LGBT community, but for our friends, our families, and our co-workers whose jobs are now at risk.”