gay

For a while, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback was saying it was going to be pretty difficult to start offering benefits to same-sex couples who worked for the state following the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

It took a few days, but the state finally started granting gay and lesbian couples benefits. But local governments have been quietly offering same-sex benefits for some time.

Governor Sam Brownback's chief spokeswoman says the governor's recent executive order on same-sex marriage does not apply to local governments.

Spokeswoman Eileen Hawley issued a statement yesterday in response to criticism from the group Equality Kansas.

The order this week protects clergy, churches and religious groups that refuse to participate in same-sex weddings or to provide goods, services or accommodations for them.

The order says state agencies and political subdivisions shall not punish them for acting on their opposition to same-sex marriage.

Stephen Koranda file photo

The state of Kansas is trying to digest the meanings of two decisions: the extension of health benefits to state employees with same-sex partners, and an executive order from the governor on the protection of religious freedom.

LGBT Activists Rally Outside Kansas Statehouse

Feb 16, 2015
Cody Newill KCUR

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback rescinded protections for state employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity last week. But as Cody Newill reports, there’s one lawmaker who is trying to restore those protections.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has overturned an executive order that had protected many state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The executive order had been put into place in 2007 by former Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

Tom Witt, with the group Equality Kansas, says LGBT state employees don’t have any other protections under Kansas law.

“This is their sole protection in the workplace," Witt says. "Now they can be harassed, denied promotions and fired for no other reason than their sexual orientation.”

Kansas has begun issuing gender-neutral marriage forms, though there's still ongoing litigation over the state's ban on same-sex marriages.

Copies of the new forms were included in a motion that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment filed Wednesday and amended Thursday, seeking to have former Secretary Robert Moser dismissed from the litigation.

The ACLU wants all state agencies in Kansas to recognize same sex marriages. As Stephen Koranda reports, the group is now asking a federal court to make it happen.

The court filing specifically names several state officials, including the secretary of revenue. It says people in same sex relationships have been denied state benefits, like joining their spouse’s health insurance or filing joint taxes.

Thomas Witt, with the group Equality Kansas, says the courts have let same sex marriages go forward in Kansas, and that means they should also be recognized by state agencies.

On Tuesday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the state of Kansas' request to convene the full court to hear its appeal of U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree's order that the state allow same-sex marriages.

The latest procedural development from the federal appeals court in the case has little practical effect because the U.S. Supreme Court has already refused an emergency request to block Crabtree's order. It means that a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit will hear arguments over the preliminary injunction issued in the Kansas case.

The Kansas Supreme Court has cleared the way for more same-sex marriages in Johnson County, but says it will defer to the U.S. Supreme Court on whether Kansas' ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional.

The Kansas Supreme Court lifted its hold on licenses to same-sex couples in Johnson County yesterday.

Johnson County Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty had authorized the licenses last month after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear cases from three federal appeals courts that had overturned same-sex marriage bans.

Abigail Wilson

Judges in at least four Kansas counties were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples a day after the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling allowing them to wed. KMUW’s Abigail Wilson reports that by noon Thursday nearly a dozen couples picked up marriage applications at the Sedgwick County Courthouse.

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