Archive for Saturday, September 1, 2007

Sexual-orientation discrimination outlawed

Governor’s order affects 25,000 state employees

September 1, 2007


Discrimination rule

Maggie Childs of Lawrence, who is local chapter president of the Kansas Equality Coalition, talks about an executive order signed Friday, August 31, 2007, by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that prohibits on-the-job discrimination against state employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Friday signed an executive order aimed at protecting state employees from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"We need to make sure in Kansas that all of our employees are treated with dignity and respect and that the doors of state employment are open to all," Sebelius said.

The order affects about 25,000 state employees, making it illegal to discriminate against those workers on the basis of whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Members of the Kansas Equality Coalition applauded Sebelius during a signing ceremony.

As she hugged members of the coalition, Sebelius remarked, "I'm sorry it took us so long."

The Kansas Democratic LGBT Caucus and the Human Rights Campaign also worked on the order. Andy Wollen, chairman of the Kansas Traditional Republican Majority, issued a one-sentence comment: "It's about time."

Sebelius said the action wasn't prompted by lawsuits or discrimination complaints, but that the state employee anti-discrimination policy was simply out of date.

State government already prohibited discrimination in hiring and employment based on race, ethnicity, gender, national origin and age. The executive order ads sexual orientation and gender identity to the list.

More than 30 states and 90 percent of Fortune 500 businesses have similar policies, as does the city of Lawrence. Kansas University has had a policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for 30 years.

Maggie Childs, president of the Lawrence chapter of the coalition, watched Sebelius sign the order.

"Gay and lesbian and transgender people are now protected from losing their jobs because of hate or prejudice," Childs said.

Legislation to extend anti-discrimination protections in private employment and housing is before a state Senate committee. Sebelius said she supported that measure.

Childs said she believed Sebelius' action was a "first step" in getting the statewide legislation.

Cora Holt, a state employee, said she had been fired as an instructor at a private college after it became known she was a lesbian.

"The ripples from this are going to reach far and wide," Holt said of the executive order. "So many people will have a safety net that they didn't have before."

Dennis Dobson, who supervises a lab for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said the lack of the anti-discrimination policy held back employees.

"If you're not sure that somebody is going to have your back, then you're not willing to take risks to advance your job," he said.


jmadison 10 years, 3 months ago

Sebelius was the recipient of a campaign contribution from Norman Hsu, the Democrats bagman version of Jack Abramoff. Hilary gave her 23000 dollar contribution from this individual to charity. What will Sebelius do?

dragonwagon2 10 years, 3 months ago

Now let's go the next step and offer benefits to the "partners" we aren't allowed (by law) to marry! The sooner the better.

classclown 10 years, 3 months ago

Considering that Kansas is an "at will" state and a person can be fired (as I understand it) for no specific reason and employers (again as I understand it) are not required to give a reason for termination, how could one prove they were discriminated against?

Outside of being told that "your kind ain't welcome to work here", how can one prove discrimination for any reason?

jasonc_22 10 years, 3 months ago

classclown, you can't be fired in Kansas for being black, or old, or young, or Jewish, or anything else covered by age, sex, race, religion or creed. This expands that same protection to people who are LGBT in respect to state hiring.

As to "how can you tell discrimination happened- courts find discrimination in hiring/firing all the time for the other protected classes.

storm 10 years, 3 months ago

Thank you, Anita Bryant and Phred. Let's move on to the next society's scapegoat - illegal immigrants attending Kansas schools and allowed in-state tuition at schools of higher learning in Kansas.

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