Confronting a $344 million budget deficit following the failure of his supply side economic experiment, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is a busy man these days, further slashing education in a state that had already imposed among the largest cuts in the nation, gutting the state's pension system, and diverting funds from vital infrastructure programs in an effort to clean up the mess his tax cuts for the wealthy created. But amid all this, the governor still has time to deal with other matters, as he demonstrated today, with a quintessentially Brownbackian assault on the civil rights of LGBT Kansans.
In a development that falls somewhere between "I can't believe he hadn't done this already" and "My God, what a monumental prick," Brownback issued an executive order Tuesday removing gender identity and sexual orientation from the classes of protected Kansas government employees, which include race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry or age.
Former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius had extended the non-discrimination protections to LGBT employees during her tenure, but in issuing his own order today, Brownback said that "expansion of ‘protected classes’ should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action."
Brownback, who served previous stints in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, has long been among the Republican Party's most inveterate opponents of LGBT equality. While in the U.S. Senate, he was a co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have written marriage discrimination into the U.S. Constitution. After a federal judge struck down Kansas' gay marriage ban last fall, Brownback vowed to continue defending it, but he was unable to stop marriage equality from taking effect shortly after his narrow re-election victory.