Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback rescinded Tuesday a 2007 executive order signed by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius extending protected-class anti-discrimination status to gay and transgender state employees.
Mr. Brownback defended his decision in a statement accompanying his executive order, which removed “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from the list of those protected under the state’s hiring and employment policy.
“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,” Mr. Brownback said. “Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action.”
The order “reaffirms the commitment of the State of Kansas to employment practices which do not discriminate based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry or age,” and also “reaffirms our commitment to hiring, mentoring and recognizing veterans and individuals with disabilities.”
That includes implementing “employment management practices for veterans and disabled individuals that include outreach, hiring, support, mentoring, development, rewards and recognition for achievement,” the order said.
Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, called the Republican governor’s order “an outrage.”
“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,” Mr. Witt said in a statement.
Ms. Sebelius, who stepped down last year as President Obama’s secretary of health and human services, also established in her 2007 executive order a “diversity management program” and an “agency affirmative action plan.”
The governor’s order affects an estimated 25,000 state employees and does not extend to private sector hiring or employment.