Brownback Right to Rescind LGBT Executive Order
Re-affirming the balance of power, the Kansas Governor says the legislature should decide controversial LGBT issues.
When outspoken liberal Democrat Kathleen Sebelius was governor of Kansas, she unilaterally signed an executive order in 2007 making lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) state workers a protected class equivalent to race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry and age.
On Tuesday, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) rescinded the order, stating, “Any such expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action.” In place of it, he issued an order which reiterated support for existing constitutionally protected classes, and declared that the state will “implement employment management practices for veterans and disabled individuals that include outreach, hiring, support, mentoring, development, rewards and recognition for achievement.”
The LA Times described the move as “removing protections” for LGBT workers. In reality, Brownback merely re-established the proper balance of powers between the executive and legislative branches in his state, and reversed the collision course with religious liberties that results from indiscriminately making LGBT individuals a specially protected class. To judge from recent experience, these laws tend to pit LBGT interests against the freedom of religion and freedom of association of others.
Anti-discrimination laws should not trump other basic rights. Laws against gender discrimination, for example, do not and should not force women pastors upon churches that oppose women’s ordination. In contrast, the current effort to make LGBT persons a “protected class” has led to bakers, florists and bed-and-breakfasts being successfully sued for refusing to participate in same-sex marriages that contradict their religious convictions. This turns “non-discrimination” laws into a cudgel to beat the recalcitrant into submission to the ascendant orthodoxy.
Unlike gay libertarians, most of whom would prefer to be left alone, a small but powerful minority of left-wing LGBT activists seeks to make the public affirmation of homosexuality mandatory for everyone, preferably with taxpayer-funded benefits.
Instead of sticking to traditional channels like the legislature to accomplish their agenda, this handful of activists seeks unilateral mandates from compliant judges and executives. Governor Brownback is merely returning the debate to the legislature where it belongs. No legislature is infallible, of course, but it is the body most likely to find a solution that is broadly representative.
The Founding Fathers wisely set up our American system of government with checks and balances: A legislature that represents the people has been delegated the immense task of deciding most of the controversial public policy issues and allocating the people’s money. The executive branch may veto a bill, but it is not to be the sole author. Neither is the judicial branch to strike down legislation under the ruse of creating new rights. This is what happened in Roe v. Wade, which solved nothing and resulted in the legalized death of millions of unborn human beings in the US since 1973.
Keep in mind, too, that there already are laws and remedies in place to address real discrimination, such as suing an employer who dismisses an employee unfairly. Adding this additional layer, which is likely to collide with first amendment rights, is something that at least needs to be publicly debated. That isn’t happening everywhere, but perhaps it can happen in Kansas.
Governor Brownback is taking a commonsense approach, wisely leaving such a controversial decision up to the people’s representatives – the legislature – to decide.