The Wichita Eagle - - Front Page - BY JONATHAN SHORMAN jshorman@wi­chi­taea­

In­com­ing Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly says she will sign an ex­ec­u­tive or­der to re­in­state pro­tec­tions for LGBT work­ers.

Gay, les­bian, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der state em­ploy­ees across Kansas will again have pro­tec­tions from on-the-job dis­crim­i­na­tion once Demo­crat Laura Kelly be­comes gover­nor.

Kelly on Thurs­day reaf­firmed plans to re­in­state an ex­ec­u­tive or­der pro­vid­ing a pro­tec­tion from dis­crim­i­na­tion that for­mer Gov. Sam Brown­back re­scinded in 2015.

The or­der, first put in place by Demo­cratic Gov. Kath­leen Se­be­lius in 2007, pro­hib­ited ha­rass­ment, fir­ing or dis­crim­i­na­tion against state work­ers based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity.

“I am plan­ning to ac­tu­ally have an ex­ec­u­tive or­der drafted be­fore I take of­fice” to take ac­tion as soon as pos­si­ble, Kelly said.

Kelly, who de­feated Repub­li­can Kris Kobach on Tues­day, made the re­marks in a wide-rang­ing news con­fer­ence at the Kansas Capi­tol that touched on LGBT rights, fos­ter care and her ap­proach to fill­ing the new ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Brown­back re­moved the pro­tec­tions the same year the U.S. Supreme Court le­gal­ized same-sex mar­riage na­tion­wide. At the time, Brown­back said the or­der had cre­ated “a new pro­tected class” through ex­ec­u­tive ac­tion and that any change should be made by the Leg­is­la­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign, 21 states and the District of Columbia pro­hibit dis­crim­i­na­tion based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity. An­other six states pro­hibit dis­crim­i­na­tion against only pub­lic em­ploy­ees on the ba­sis of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity; five states also pro­hibit dis­crim­i­na­tion against pub­lic em­ploy­ees based only on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

Kansas sits in the mid­dle of a string of Mid­west states stretch­ing North Dakota to Texas that have no anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion pro­hi­bi­tions.

“We’re quite pleased she’s keep­ing her cam­paign prom­ise and we’re not sur­prised,” said Tom Witt, di­rec­tor of Equal­ity Kansas.

Kelly’s com­ments come af­ter the elec­tion of the first two openly LGBT mem­bers of the Kansas House. Democrats Bran­don Woodard and Su­san Ruiz both won sub­ur­ban Kansas City-area seats Tues­day.

At the na­tional level, Kansas City-area vot­ers elected Sharice Davids to Con­gress. Davids will be the state’s first openly LGBT mem­ber of Con­gress, and the first Na­tive Amer­i­can woman to serve in Con­gress, along with New Mex­ico’s Deb Haa­land.

Kelly also said that if it is pos­si­ble, she will di­rect the state to re­quire adop­tion agen­cies with state con­tracts to not dis­crim­i­nate against LGBT cou­ples and in­di­vid­u­als.

Ear­lier this year, the Leg­is­la­ture ap­proved a bill that en­sures en­sures faith­based adop­tion agen­cies can turn away gay and les­bian cou­ples based on re­li­gious be­liefs. The bill says the Kansas De­part­ment for Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies can­not block any fos­ter or adop­tion agency from par­tic­i­pat­ing in its pro­grams solely be­cause it re­fuses to adopt or place chil­dren with LGBT in­di­vid­u­als.

The leg­is­la­tion was sup­ported by the Fam­ily Pol­icy Al­liance of Kansas, and the group af­ter Tues­day’s elec­tion called Kelly “an en­emy of life, fam­ily and re­li­gious free­dom.”

“Dur­ing her cam­paign she pledged to roll­back pro­tec­tions for the un­born and faith-based adop­tion and fos­ter care min­istries, which would be con­sis­tent with her long record of op­pos­ing the val­ues most Kansans hold dear,” Eric Teet­sel, the group’s pres­i­dent, said.

Kelly also said Thurs­day that she sup­ports med­i­cal mar­i­juana and be­lieves Kansas is ready for it. Her com­ments came af­ter Mis­souri ap­proved med­i­cal mar­i­juana ear­lier this week.

A Fort Hays State Uni­ver­sity poll this fall of Kansans found 52 per­cent of re­spon­dents sup­port le­gal­iz­ing recre­ational mar­i­juana for those 21 and older. Thirty-nine per­cent ex­pressed op­po­si­tion. The poll did not ask about med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

Kelly will be­come gover­nor on Jan. 14. In the run up to her in­au­gu­ra­tion, she will need to name cab­i­net sec­re­taries and other ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials.

Kelly promised a bi­par­ti­san and di­verse cab­i­net. Asked what qual­i­ties she’ll be look­ing for in ap­point­ments, Kelly replied, “peo­ple who know what they’re do­ing” and high­lyskilled in­di­vid­u­als.

Kelly, who is cur­rently a Topeka state sen­a­tor, also said Thurs­day she plans to live in Cedar Crest, the gover­nor’s tra­di­tional res­i­dence near the city.

JONATHAN SHORMAN The Wi­chita Ea­gle

Kansas Gover­nor-elect Laura Kelly takes ques­tions from the me­dia dur­ing her first news con­fer­ence af­ter her elec­tion vic­tory.

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