Marriage Equality Backlash: Kansas Governor Issues Anti-LGBTQ Executive Order

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Marriage Equality Backlash: Kansas Governor Issues Anti-LGBTQ Executive Order

Nina Liss-Schultz

Kansas' Republican Governor Sam Brownback on Tuesday issued an executive order allowing clergy members to refuse to perform marriages of same-sex couples and permitting the continued discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation.

Kansas’ Republican Governor Sam Brownback on Tuesday issued an executive order allowing clergy members to refuse to perform marriages of same-sex couples and permitting the continued discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation.

Brownback’s order is part of a widely anticipated conservative backlash against the Supreme Court’s landmark 5-4 ruling in favor of marriage equality.

Writing in a public statement that his office disagrees “with the decision of the Supreme Court,” Brownback said that his order “protects Kansas clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in activities that violate their sincerely and deeply held beliefs.”

The anti-LGBTQ state policy goes well beyond sanctioning churches who refuse to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples, say advocates. According to the ACLU of Kansas, “a homeless shelter that received a state contract or grant could refuse family housing to a gay couple with a child, 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.”

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As courts and state legislatures continue promoting protections for LGBTQ people, conservatives have countered with religious exemption laws.

The Utah state legislature in March passed a bill banning discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, but the text included an exception for the free exercise of religion. Twenty-one states already have “religious freedom” laws on the books; this year, 33 states either amended existing Religious Freedom of Restoration Acts or proposed new ones.

Some states with GOP-led legislatures have pushed LGBTQ protections strictly for economic purposes, while including religious exemptions that explicitly allow discrimination against the local LGBTQ community.

Following the SCOTUS marriage equality decision, conservatives have said that churches and organizations won’t be able to follow their religious beliefs and could lose tax-exempt status or funding from the state.

Every Republican presidential candidate has said they do not support marriage equality, and many have explicitly said they will fight against marriage equality if elected to the White House.