It’s been nearly two weeks since the new representatives, governors, and congressmen and women took their seats on January 3. Already some of them are planning on making some major changes, and the new House, which is controlled by the Democrats, is causing all sorts of problems for President Donald Trump and his government shutdown.
While most of the focus at the moment is on the continued shutdown, other lawmakers are taking some major steps in their own states. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly is one such person. According to the Wichita Eagle, Kelly, who was only sworn in two days ago on January 14, plans to reinstate protections for LGBT persons in the workplace right off the bat.
On Tuesday, Kelly said that “discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender state employees” must again be prohibited in the state of Kansas after the first openly gay representatives from the state said they would fight for those rights to be returned to the LGBT community. These protections were previously removed by Kelly’s predecessor, Republican Governor Sam Brownback, in 2015.
“As I have said numerous times before, discrimination of any kind has no place in Kansas and it will not be tolerated in this administration,” Kelly said. “We will ensure that state workers feel safe and supported in their working environment.”
The original protections stated that people could not be discriminated against in the workplace on the basis of their gender identity or sexuality. Brownback’s argument for removing the order stated that “the order had created a new protected class.”
It’s not just state employees that will be affected by Kelly’s new order, either. People working for state contractors will also be protected with the signing, as well as people with disabilities. Unfortunately, only the executive branch that Kelly controls will be affected, leaving private businesses and companies to set their own rules unless something changes at the legislative level.
“It’s an important message to businesses and everybody else in Kansas that this is going to be a place where fairness and equality are valued and promoted,” said Tom Witt, director of Equality Kansas.
State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook is less than impressed with Kelly’s decision, calling it “anti-liberty” and saying it is “degrading to reduce individuals” to their “sexual inclinations.”
“These laws cause divisions in communities and can have serious detrimental and unintended consequences because of their subjective nature.”
This comes at a time when many Evangelical activists and Republican politicians are allegedly trying to repeal rights for LGBT people in their states, and the new Brazilian president has already removed all their rights in the country.