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Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed an executive order Tuesday rescinding protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state workers.
The protections had been instituted by then-Govenor and former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat whose 2007 order established “protected class rights” that prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Brownback, a Republican, signed a second executive order reaffirming the state’s commitment to bar employment discrimination on the basis of “race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry or age.”
“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 a statement. “Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action.”
Democrats spoke out against the new order’s reversal on LGBT rights, while state Republicans had mixed reactions. Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, told the Kansas City Star that the move was “an outrage.”
“Gay, lesbian, and transgender state employees across Kansas have trusted they would be safe from discrimination and harassment in their workplace,” he said, “but Sam Brownback has, by erasing their job protections, declared ‘open season’ on every one of them.”