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On Tuesday, Governor Sam Brownback issued an executive order regarding the US Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v Hodges, the landmark marriage equality case. Instead of ordering state agencies to immediately comply with Obergefell, Brownback doubled down on his anti-LGBT bigotry and told his agencies how to avoid compliance.
This is in marked contrast to Missouri, where Governor Jay Nixon on Tuesday also issued an executive order – one that directed Missouri state agencies to honor the ruling of the Supreme Court, and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples.
Brownback’s order is a slap in the face of every LGBT Kansan, our children, and our families and friends. His order outrageously declares our civil rights to be an “imposition” on the rights of others. His order is an attempt to use “religion” as a shield behind which he hides his utter contempt and disregard for the rights and humanity of every LGBT Kansan.
His order is an affront to religion and people of all faiths. More damning, however, is Governor Brownback’s unlawful and unconstitutional power grab. In his order, Brownback claims authority over “all departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and political subdivisions of the State of Kansas.” With those words, Governor Brownback has just declared himself the supreme ruler of every local school board, every state university, every community college, and every independent commission, hospital board, library board, township, city and county in our state.
This is not the statement of a democratically elected governor who honors his oath to the constitutions of the United States and the State of Kansas. This is the unhinged raving of a tyrant and a dictator.
Should this order ever be implemented and survive a certain court challenge, it will allow any private organization providing government services at taxpayer expense to ignore our marriages. For the past several years, the State of Kansas has been outsourcing services to private companies. Adoption services, foster care placement, and Medicaid are three examples. Additionally, the State has been finding creative ways to divert taxpayer dollars meant for public schools into private schools run by religious organizations. Should far-right plans become law, even more taxpayer-funded services will be “privatized,” with contracts issued to church-affiliated companies.
Cities and counties across the state also contract with church-connected organizations to provide low-income medical services, mental health services, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and domestic violence and human trafficking safe-houses. From the plain language of his order, it is clear that Brownback’s power grab will extend even to these programs, giving anyone with a “religious belief or moral conviction” the right to deny taxpayer-funded treatment and services to our families.
The Governor is attempting, by dictatorial fiat, to place the rights of a few – those who have “sincerely held religious beliefs” or “moral conviction” – above the rights of all other Kansans. He tries to justify this by first pointing an accusatory finger at us – an accusation that we will somehow compel religious leaders to officiate at our weddings. This is ludicrous. There is no time in modern US history where anyone has been able to legally compel anyone else – pastor, preacher, reverend, priest, or otherwise – to perform a marriage against their will. This is nothing but distraction and disgusting political scare tactic. His true intent is buried in legalese denying recognition of legal marriages, which has been his goal from the start.
Governor Sam Brownback, like all Kansas governors before him, took an oath of office at the beginning of his term. Brownback likes to talk about his oath to the Kansas constitution, but clearly doesn’t like talking about his first oath, that to the US constitution. Here is the full text of his oath, which he has now taken twice upon election and reelection:
“I, Sam Brownback, do solemnly swear that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the State of Kansas, and faithfully execute the duties of the Governor of the State of Kansas, so help me God.”
You can see video of the entire ceremony here: https://youtu.be/raIV9ARPxbM
It is time for Governor Brownback to honor his oath of office. It is time for Sam Brownback to withdraw this unconstitutional executive order, and issue a new one. It is time for Brownback to “faithfully execute the duties of the Governor,” and direct every state agency to immediately and fully comply with the rulings of the United States Supreme Court. It is time for Governor Brownback to respect all of his constituents, and allow us to fully exercise our constitutional rights.
Contact Governor Brownback today. Tell him it’s time.
Thomas Witt, Executive Director
The full text of the order can be found here: http://eqks.org/breaking-governor-brownback-issues-religious-objection-executive-order/
Office of the Governor: 785-296-3232 or 785-368-8500
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Twitter: @govsambrownback (https://twitter.com/govsambrownback)