Metro Weekly

Kansas will protect religious groups from same-sex marriage

Gov. Brownback ensures religious individuals or groups can deny services to same-sex couples without fear of repercussion

Sam Brownback, Credit - United States Senate

Sam Brownback – Credit: United States Senate

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback isn’t happy with the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality. At the time, he deemed the justices to have “[overruled] the people of this state, who have clearly supported the Kansas Constitution’s definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.”

Now, Brownback is doing everything he can to protect that definition — or, at least, enable others to discriminate against married same-sex couples. In an Executive Order signed this week, the state of Kansas is prevented from taking action against “any individual clergy, religious leader, or religious organization” if they have “a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.”

The order matches protections already offered by Kansas’ Constitution, but Brownback felt compelled to ensure that religious individuals or groups could refuse to accept same-sex couples without fear of repercussion.

“We have a duty to govern and to govern in accordance with the Constitution as it has been determined by the Supreme Court decision,” Brownback said in a statement. “We also recognise that religious liberty is at the heart of who we are as Kansans and Americans, and should be protected. While we disagree with the decision of the Supreme Court, it is important that all Kansans be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Unsurprisingly, LGBT groups reject Brownback’s justifications for his order.

“Having nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with enabling discrimination,” Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, told the Washington Post, “this executive order is divisive, unnecessary, and sends the wrong message.”

“As a result of (the order), a homeless shelter that received a state contract or grant could refuse family housing to a gay couple with a child,” said Micah Kubic, of ACLU Kansas, “or a foster care agency could refuse to place a child in their custody with the child’s family member just because the family member was in a same-sex relationship — and the state couldn’t require them to treat all families equally.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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