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Kansas governor removes protections for gay state employees

Kansas governor removes protections for gay state employees

The Governor of Kansas has removed protections for LGBTI state employees in a move gay rights activists have decried as ‘shameful.’

Sam Brownback yesterday (10 February) issued an executive order rescinding a 2007 order signed by former governor Kathleen Sebelius that extended non-discrimination protections to state employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

‘This executive order ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional "protected classes" as the previous order did,’ he said in a statement.

‘Any such expansion of "protected classes" should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action.

State employees in Kansas can now legally be fired, harassed or denied a job for being gay or transgender, critics said.

‘This action by the governor is an outrage,’ Thomas Witt, the head of Equality Kansas, said in a statement.

‘Gay, lesbian and transgender state employees across Kansas have trusted they would be safe from discrimination and harassment in their workplace, but Sam Brownback has, by erasing their job protections, declared "open season" on every one of them.

‘If you work for the state and have felt comfortable being "out" at work knowing you had protection from bigotry, that protection is gone."

The Human Rights Campaign decried the move as a ‘foul, reckless and shameful decision.’

‘Governor Brownback has taken the state backward,’ Marty Rouse, a national field director for the group, said in a statement.

‘His deplorable behavior is a direct assault on fairness and equality in the state.’