A former Johnson County state legislator who backed covenant marriages was named to run the state’s social services agency on Friday.
Gov. Sam Brownback named Phyllis Gilmore to run the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, which eventually will be renamed the Department for Children and Families.
Gilmore, who once described herself as Christian and conservative, replaces Rob Siedlecki, who resigned in December.
Gilmore represented part of Olathe in the Kansas Legislature from 1994 to 2000. She was among a number of lawmakers who backed the idea of covenant marriages, which involve premarital counseling and more stringent divorce standards.
Under the bill Gilmore supported, anyone wanting a covenant marriage would declare their intentions when they applied for a marriage license.
Brownback, a Republican, praised Gilmore at a news conference, saying he always enjoyed her attitude and her heart.
“It was important to find someone who is experienced in family- and children-related issues and understands the many challenges our state’s most vulnerable citizens face,” Brownback said. “Phyllis shares our passion to improve our great state and reduce the number of children living in poverty.”
Gilmore has served as executive director of the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Board, which regulates and licenses health professionals in Kansas. She is a licensed specialist in clinical social work with a master’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis.
Most recently, Gilmore served as the regional director for the SRS agency in the Kansas City area.
Gilmore said Friday that she didn’t know the status of the marriage initiatives that were being pursued by the agency under Siedlecki.
She said she also hadn’t given any thought about pursuing covenant marriages as part of any legislative agenda now or in the future.