EQKS 2018 Gubernatorial and Legislative Questionnaire

by | July 10, 2018

(Originally posted by Equality Kansas to Equality Kansas News)

Each election cycle since 2006, Equality Kansas develops a questionnaire for candidates for public office.  The responses are evaluated by our political action committee and used as part of the endorsement process, and are used by are government affairs staff to identify pro-equality lawmakers, and reach out to those who will support our mission.

Our 2018 gubernatorial and legislative questionnaire is included below.  Please note that Equality Kansas does not publish the responses.

  1.  Non-Discrimination & Equal Opportunity

Kansas currently has a non-discrimination statute called the Kansas Acts Against Discrimination.  It protects people from discrimination based on religion, sex, age, race, ethnicity, and national origin in employment, housing, and public accommodations.  It does not include protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

In 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015, controversial “religious freedom” bills (such as 2016’s SB175 and 2014’s HB2453) that would allow overt discrimination against LGBT Kansans have been introduced in the legislature.  All but SB175, which permits taxpayer‑funded religious groups operating on university campuses to deny participation to LGBT students, failed to pass. Do you oppose recent efforts by the Kansas Legislature to enact religious freedom legislation that would allow business owners, business employees and government employees to refuse to serve the LGBT community because of their religious objections?

  • Do you oppose discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation based on sexual orientation and gender identity?

  • Do you support amending Kansas’s existing nondiscrimination law (which bans discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation based on traits such as race, sex, and religion) to include sexual orientation and gender identity?

  • Do you support procurement regulations banning discrimination by government contractors based on sexual orientation or gender identity?

  • In 2007, then‑Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed an executive order extending protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to State of Kansas employees. In 2015, then‑Governor Sam Brownback rescinded the Sebelius order, replacing it with a so‑called “religious freedom” order which appears to give the State the right to refuse to hire or terminate employees based on the religious beliefs of their supervisors.  If elected, would you reinstate the protections given by Governor Sebelius?
  1. Marriage Recognition

In 2015, the United States Supreme Court overturned all state laws banning the recognition of marriages of same-sex couples.  In the wake of that ruling, some public officials have claimed “religious freedom” as a reason to deny service to same sex couples.  Additionally, some businesses that serve the general public have also claimed “religious freedom” as a reason to deny service.

  • Do you believe public officials, in carrying out their taxpayer-funded duties, must serve all taxpayers equally, regardless of marital status.?

  • Do you believe businesses that serve the general public must serve all the public, regardless of marital status?

  1. Birth Certificates

Kansas statute currently gives authority to the Vital Statistics division of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to amend Kansas birth certificates.  Current KDHE regulations allow transgender individuals born in Kansas to amend their birth certificates, upon completion of transition, to accurately reflect their gender.  However, since 2011, KDHE has denied amendments to transgender individuals.  The KDHE is currently in the process of repealing those regulations, which will prevent transgender individuals from acquiring accurate identification.

  • Do you support the right of transgender Kansans to amend their birth certificates to accurately reflect their gender identity?

  • Transgender Kansans who have not been able to update their identification have been challenged at the polls, specifically because name, gender, and appearance on the identification do not readily match the appearance of the voter. Do you support the right of transgender Kansans to have access to identification that accurately reflects their name and identity?
  1. Insurance

Kansas currently does not mandate coverage for medically necessary care when ordered by a physician.  Prior to 2013, transgender individuals on Medicaid routinely had their treatment approved; however, since the privatization of Kansas Medicaid (KanCare), transgender patients are no longer receiving necessary care.

  • Do you support mandating that KanCare provide medically necessary care, when ordered by a physician, to transgender patients?
  1. Families and Children

Foster Parenting and Adoption:  The Kansas Department for Children and Families (formerly SRS) has faced mounting criticism and accusations, based on the release of court documents, that some of its officials discriminate against same-sex couples in the placement of children in need of care.  Although a 2017 “limited scope” audit of DCF’s placement practices uncovered instances of discrimination, efforts to investigate and hold DCF and its officials accountable have been repeatedly blocked.

  • Do you support a full investigation of DCF’s placement practices?

  • Do you support adoption and foster care placements based on the best interests of the child, without regard to the parents’ sexual orientation or gender identity?

  • In the 2018 legislative session, the State of Kansas passed a law which will allow taxpayer‑funded foster and adoption agencies to turn away LGBT families based on the agencies’ religious affiliation. Do you oppose attempts to use taxpayer dollars, in the provision of state services, by agencies that engage in discrimination?

IVF and Surrogacy: There are currently five clinics in Kansas that provide in-vitro fertilization services to women, and most do not turn away women in same-sex relationships.  In 2010 a bill was introduced that would have required the reporting to the state the names of same-sex couples seeking IVF therapy.  In the bill, failure to report could have resulted in clinic workers being charged with a Level 10 nonperson felony.  Kansas law currently permits surrogacy contracts for couples seeking to have children carried by third parties.  It is not uncommon for same-sex couples in Kansas to also enter into surrogacy contracts, as they are not currently banned.  In the 2014 legislative session, a bill was introduced, and quickly killed after public hearings, that would have imprisoned and fined mothers entering into surrogacy agreements.

  • Do you support maternity/paternity rights for non-biological parents when gay and lesbian couples decide to start a family?

  • Do you oppose any attempt to restrict or criminalize surrogacy, no matter the sexual orientation of the parents?

  1. School Safety and Bullying Prevention

In 2007, the Legislature passed a statute requiring public schools districts in Kansas to adopt policies and develop implementation plans to combat bullying.  The statute currently lacks enumerations of protected classes, or any transparency or enforcement provisions.  As a result, many school districts across Kansas are not in compliance with the statute.  In school districts that have taken steps to follow the law, the quality of compliance varies widely.  In general, those districts whose bullying prevention materials are readily available to parents have the qualitatively most comprehensive plans, where those whose materials are difficult to access place little to no emphasis on following the law.

  • Do you support school district policies banning bullying by students based on sexual orientation or gender identity?

  • Do you support requiring school districts to post their bullying policies and implementation plans online, and to file them with the Kansas Department of Education?

In the 2016 legislative session, two bills were introduced that would have paid children a $2500 “bounty” if they were upset by witnessing a transgender child in a school restroom.  In the 2017 legislative session, two bills similar to the 2016 bills were introduced, but removing the fixed $2500 bounty and replacing it with damages to be set by the Kansas Attorney General.  Equality Kansas believes that, should this type of legislation pass, transgender children in elementary, middle, and high‑schools would be at extreme risk of bullying and violence.

  • Do you support allowing children to use the restroom for the gender with which they identify?

  1. Criminalization of Same-Sex Relationships

In 2003, the US Supreme Court decided in Lawrence v. Texas that criminalizing consensual acts between same‑sex partners (defined as sodomy) is unconstitutional.  It is important to note that just because the courts have ruled a statute unconstitutional, that does not compel a state legislature to remove it from the statute books.  That is the case here in Kansas:  Although the Kansas statute criminalizing same-sex sodomy is technically unenforceable, it remains the law in this state, and has been used to justify official harassment of LGBT Kansans.  The Kansas law currently states that sex acts between members of the same sex is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in prison and a $1000 fine.

  • Do you support repealing Kansas’s criminal ban on same-sex relationships, which is unconstitutional and unenforceable after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision?

  1. Justice for Crime Victims

Kansas has had a hate crimes statute on the books since 1993 that includes “sexual orientation” among its protected classes.  Because of US Supreme Court decisions involving similar laws in other states, the Kansas statute was amended in 2000 to require what amounts to a second trial to determine if bias was present and whether it justifies a harsher sentence than the underlying crime itself.  Because of the cost and time required to empanel a jury for the penalty phase, it has been used in almost no prosecutions in Kansas.

  • Do you support tracking and reporting statistics on crimes motivated by bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity?

  • Transgender Kansans have become more frequent victims of violence, including a recent Wichita murder, because of their gender identity. Do you support amending our state hate crimes statute to include gender identity?

  • Do you support amending the Kansas hate crimes statute to improve its enforceability?

  1. Local Government

Under the Kansas constitution, cities are given the right of home rule, and unified school districts are given wide latitude to govern their own affairs.  Using their local powers, some cities and school districts in Kansas have enacted non-discrimination ordinances and policies inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, and have expanded bully prevention policies to include LGBT students.

Do you support the home-rule and local-control rights of Kansas cities and school districts to establish their own nondiscrimination ordinances and bullying prevention policies?

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