Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Sebelius Criticizes Brownback Action ; Rescission of LGBT Discrimination Ban 'Troubling'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Sebelius Criticizes Brownback Action ; Rescission of LGBT Discrimination Ban 'Troubling'

Article excerpt

LAWRENCE -- Former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday called Gov. Sam Brownback's rescission of an executive order that banned state agencies from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity "a terribly troubling and damaging statement for the state to make."

On Tuesday, Brownback rescinded the executive order, which had been issued in 2007 by Sebelius, saying the expansion of "protected classes" should be done by the Legislature, not through unilateral action.

"I was totally surprised and really incredibly unhappy with him taking this action eight years after the executive order was issued," Sebelius said, adding it sends a "terrible message" to state employees and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people throughout the state. "I have no idea why the governor would do this."

Sebelius said she issued the executive order to ensure the state's workplace was inclusive and workers wouldn't be subjected to discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender. She also said the executive order was a "positive signal" in a state that had a constitution banning same-sex marriage.

The former governor said to her knowledge not a single issue had been raised regarding the executive order in the past eight years and no attempts were made to change or override the action.

Rescinding the executive order, she said, is counter to what she called "the revolution" taking place across the nation for LGBT equality and acceptance of same-sex marriage, which is legal in 37 states. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on same-sex marriage nationwide in a few months.

Sebelius, who was Kansas governor from 2003 to 2009 and U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2014, also was critical of Brownback for his handling of the projected $344 million shortfall in the state's current budget. …

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