Governor renews LGBT protections; legislators react

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Kansas’ new Democratic governor has reinstated a ban on anti-LGBT bias in hiring and employment decisions by state agencies and extended it to state government contractors.

“Discrimination of any kind has no place in Kansas and it will not be tolerated in this administration,” Kelly said in her press conference.

Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order Tuesday fulfills a promise she made repeatedly in her successful campaign last year and restores a policy that had been rescinded by a conservative Republican predecessor. It was Kelly’s first official action since taking office Monday.

In 2007, Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius issued an executive order against anti-LGBT bias in state government. In 2015, conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback rescinded Sebelius’ order and argued that state lawmakers should set such a policy.

Kelly’s order applies to state agencies under her direct control, which have about 19,000 employees. But it’s broader than the Sebelius policy because it applies to contractors.

“I became their boss and as a boss before, I always tried to create workplace that was open, welcoming, and focused on the issues that are important, which is performance,” Kelly said.

Making this the first official act for the governor did stick out to some.

“It does definitely beg the question, why now, why the push, where’s the problem,” said Republican State Senator Dennis Pyle.

“I think it speaks volumes that this is the first thing she brings,” he said.

The first openly gay legislators, Representatives Brandon Woodard and Susan Ruiz were at the signing.

Ruiz said this decision meant a lot.

“To have a governor who is so supportive of the LGBTQ community, you just kind of feel like ah, you know there’s a weight off of us.”

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