LGBT State Workers Lose Protected Status

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - State workers are no longer protected based on their sexual orientation or gender identity following an executive order by Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday.

Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgendered supporters like Stephanie Mott of Topeka spoke out Tuesday saying, "To remove these kinds of protections for people that LGBT is outside the scope of humanity. It really is an inhumane way to treat people. It says without a doubt that our Governor sees LGBT people as lesser human beings, second class citizens."

His order rescinds a prior order from former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, which expanded the protections. Brownback also issued a separate order which includes language to encourage employment practices of veterans and people with disabilities.

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.

In a statement announcing the order, Brownback said the measure is meant to guarantee all Kansans enjoy the same civil rights, without creating new protected classes.

“Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action," Brownback said. "The order also reaffirms our commitment to hiring, mentoring and recognizing veterans and individuals with disabilities.”

The news release from the Governor's office went on to say the order "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."

Democrats, on the other hand are accusing Brownback of using the issue to distract voters from other issues.

“By focusing on divisive social issues, Brownback is playing to his base and attempting to distract from the serious budget crisis facing our state," said Kansas House Democratic Leader Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City.

"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,” he continued.

The change in employment policy was part of several actions included in the executive order. It also abolishes several advisory groups, which the Governor says are inactive or duplicate other efforts.

Those groups and explanations from the news release are:
-Governor’s Wind Working Group, established by Gov. Sebelius
-the Governor’s P20 Education Council, established by Governor Sebelius.
-the Kansas Coalition for Children in Nature established by Governor Seblius. The functions of this coalition duplicate efforts of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
-the Commission on Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery established by Governor Mark Parkinson. Current programs including Jobs for America’s Graduates and Career and Technical Education address these issues more efficiently.
-the Kansas Broadband Advisory Task Force established by Governor Mark Parkinson.
-the Kansas Food Security Task Force established by Governor Mark Parkinson.
-the Interagency Working Group for Wind Energy established by Governor Mark Parkinson.