Kansas Governor Sam Brownback issued an Executive Order on Tuesday (7 July) that legally ‘protects’ clergy and religious organizations who choose not to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies.
The order, titled ‘Preservation and Protection of Religious Freedom,’ comes less than two weeks after the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.
‘While we disagree with the decision of the Supreme Court, it is important that all Kansans be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve,’ Brownback said in a statement.
‘We … recognize that religious liberty is at the heart of who we are as Kansans and Americans, and should be protected. The Kansas Bill of Rights affirms the right to worship according to ‘dictates of conscience’ and further protects against any infringement of that right.’
Brownback stated that the order ‘protects Kansas clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in activities that violate their sincerely and deeply held beliefs.’
It prohibits state government from ‘taking any discriminatory action’ against those who choose not to participate in a marriage that is ‘inconsistent with its sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.’
The group Equality Kansas describes the order as ‘one part scare tactics, one part ducking his constitutional responsibility.’
The group has no problem with the clergy aspect of the order but is having its lawyers analyze the religious organizations element.
‘The plain language seems to suggest that religious organizations that have contracts to provide taxpayer-funded social services will be able to deny taxpayer-funded services to LGBT Kansans,’ they state.
‘We are incredibly disappointed by Governor Brownback. Instead of treating LGBT Kansans fairly, his only act has been to double-down on treating us as second class citizens.’