Kansas Governor Issues Pro-LGBTQ Executive Order

January 15, 2019 • 12:02 pm

Six governors have issued LGBTQ nondiscrimination orders in recent weeks

WASHINGTON – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued an executive order today that extends LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections to state employees , employees of state contractors, and across public services. The pro-LGBTQ action was one of the very first Gov. Kelly took upon assuming office, and her move essentially reinstates previous protections for state employees that were in place under former Governor Kathleen Sebelius – but that were rolled back by one of Sebelius’ successors, Sam Brownback. Kelly is the sixth governor to issue an executive order advancing LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections in recent weeks: Newly installed Governors Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Tom Evers of Wisconsin, and Mike DeWine of Ohio have signed similar orders; as did outgoing GOP Governors John Kasich of Ohio and Rick Snyder of Michigan in the final days of 2018.

“Governor Kelly’s executive order brings immediate relief to LGBTQ Kansans who work with the state government and actually had nondiscrimination protections taken away from them in recent years,” said Masen Davis, Freedom for All Americans’ CEO. “We thank Gov. Kelly for taking this important step toward making Kansas a fair and equitable place for LGBTQ people to live and work, and a more competitive state for businesses looking to recruit and retain talent. Today’s victory in Kansas is a big step forward – but the state’s history is a reminder as to why passing legislation is so critical to enacting lasting nondiscrimination protections. The best way to ensure future governors won’t undue this progress is to pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill that covers all LGBTQ Kansans.”

“Gov. Kelly’s order is the right thing to do for Kansas, and a step toward ensuring our state is well-positioned to attract and maintain businesses that strengthen our economy, our communities, and our families,” said Kathleen Sebelius, former Kansas governor and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. “Kansans support treating all people fairly and equally because it’s the right thing to do. We also know that common sense and inclusive policies are critical to maintaining our state’s economic competitiveness. Our elected officials need to do everything they can to support the 21st century jobs that are central to the prosperity of so many Kansans – from aviation to health care. One way to do that is by ensuring we have sound policies in place that make our state as welcoming as possible.”

Today’s executive order in Kansas is just the latest victory for LGBTQ advocates in a year already defined by historic support and momentum for LGBTQ nondiscrimination. In addition to the six governors from both parties who have issued executive orders, lawmakers in New York and Virginia are teeing up bills that would expand protections for LGBTQ people in both states. And lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have repeatedly signaled that they intend to take up a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill in the coming months. The support for nondiscrimination – from small towns across Kansas to defense and tech hubs like Northern Virginia – is ensuring federal legislators understand the urgency to act.

“As a lifelong Kansan, I’m proud of our new governor for affirming respect and dignity for everyone, including LGBTQ people,” said Carlos Renteria, owner of Los Compadres restaurant in Wichita. “No one should have to hide part of who they are in order to be treated fairly. My heart and passion goes into my restaurant and I couldn’t imagine not serving someone because they are different than me, or their beliefs don’t match mine. Being a business owner is an opportunity to serve everyone in our community and there’s no reason to hurt someone or cause pain. I hope our Kansas legislators will take the permanent step of codifying LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections under state law.”

See FFAA’s 2019 outlook for more details on the state legislative prospects for this year, and how momentum in the states helps create a climate for action in Congress.

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans, Democrats, and Independents; businesses large and small; people of faith; and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.


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