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Kansas governor erases protections for LGBT state employees with executive order

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With a swipe of his pen, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback wiped out protections offered to state employees facing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Brownback, a Republican, issued the executive order Tuesday, doing away with an order enacted by his predecessor, former Gov. Kathleen Sibelius.

In 2007 Sibelius issued an order expanding workplace protections to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of the state.

Brownback, in signing his order, said this “ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional ‘protected classes’ as the previous order did.”

He added “the order also reaffirms our commitment to hiring, mentoring and recognizing veterans and individuals with disabilities.”

LGBT groups decried the move, describing it as “foul, reckless and shameful.”

Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, said in a statement the move amounts to declaring “open season” on workplace harassment for LGBT state employees.

“If you work for the state and have felt comfortable being “out” at work knowing you had protection from bigotry, that protection is gone,” he said.

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux and AnneClaire Stapleton

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