Barbara Shelly

Equality Kansas to Sam Brownback: Honor your oath of office

Equality Kansas, an advocacy group, is furious at Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s resistance to the U.S. Supreme Court order in favor of marriage equality.
Equality Kansas, an advocacy group, is furious at Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s resistance to the U.S. Supreme Court order in favor of marriage equality. The Associated Press

Tom Witt, the executive director of Equality Kansas, has issued a smoking hot response to Gov. Sam Brownback’s executive order this week prohibiting state department and agencies from taking actions against clergy and religious organizations who cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex married couples.

You can see Witt’s entire statement here.

Some of the highlights:

▪ “Brownback’s order is a slap in the face of every LGBT Kansan, our children, and our families and friends. His order outrageously declares our civil rights to be an ‘imposition’on the rights of others.”

Brownback’s order says that “the recent imposition of same sex marriage by the United States Supreme Court poses potential infringements on the civil right of religious liberty.” One could read “imposition” as neutral language. Or not. Given Brownback’s hostility to Kansas’ lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, it comes across as an insult.

▪ “In his order, Brownback claims authority over “all departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and political subdivisions of the State of Kansas.” With those words, Governor Brownback has just declared himself the supreme ruler of every local school board, every state university, every community college, and every independent commission, hospital board, library board, township, city and county in our state.”

Great point. Brownback’s order reaches far beyond a governor’s usual purview, which is the executive branch of state government.

▪ “This is not the statement of a democratically elected governor who honors his oath to the constitutions of the United States and the State of Kansas. This is the unhinged raving of a tyrant and a dictator.”

Like I said, Witt is steaming.

▪ He tries to justify this by first pointing an accusatory finger at us – an accusation that we will somehow compel religious leaders to officiate at our weddings. This is ludicrous. There is no time in modern US history where anyone has been able to legally compel anyone else – pastor, preacher, reverend, priest, or otherwise – to perform a marriage against their will.

Ludicrous, for sure. Why would a same-sex couple even want to be married by someone who doesn’t accept who they are?

▪ It is time for Governor Brownback to honor his oath of office. It is time for Sam Brownback to withdraw this unconstitutional executive order, and issue a new one. It is time for Brownback to “faithfully execute the duties of the Governor,” and direct every state agency to immediately and fully comply with the rulings of the United States Supreme Court. It is time for Governor Brownback to respect all of his constituents, and allow us to fully exercise our constitutional rights.

It is time, all right. Brownback did swear in his oath of office to “support the constitution of the United States.” He should do what Gov. Jay Nixon did in Missouri and order full compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.

But he won’t. Brownback really does regard lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual Kansans as second-class citizens. By rallying people of like mind, he can gain himself a bit of a constituency and deflect attention from the financial ruin he’s brought upon state government.

Witt knows all that, of course. But you can’t blame him for wanting to make a point.

To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to bshelly@kcstar.com. On Twitter @bshelly.

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