February 11, 2015

Brownback Gets It Exactly Wrong On This One

Well maybe not exactly wrong -- after all, he does have a point that this is a matter that should be dealt with legislatively rather than through an executive order -- but wrong enough that I have a real problem with the net result of his action here.

Gov. Sam Brownback has rescinded a former governorís order barring discrimination against gays and lesbians in hiring and employment throughout much of state government. Mr. Brownback, a Republican, said Tuesday that he had issued an executive order canceling the 2007 order by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat. She ordered departments under her direct control to bar discrimination in hiring and employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Kansasí antidiscrimination law covers private employers and housing, but it does not extend to gay, lesbian or transgender residents. Mr. Brownback says that legislators should approve any expansion of antidiscrimination laws, and that Ms. Sebelius acted unilaterally. In response, a Democratic state representative, John Carmichael of Wichita, on Tuesday asked a House committee to sponsor a measure to expand the stateís existing antidiscrimination act. The committee agreed to do so.

Here's my problem -- this has the effect of allowing discrimination by the government on the basis of sexuality and gender identity. But equal protection of the law ought, by any reasonable standard, forbid ANY discrimination for any reason by government. If you are qualified to do the job, government has no placed discharging you or refusing to employ you because of your sex life (absent something like your having a tendency to engage in pedophilia or sexual assault). Similarly, there should be no need for laws forbidding discrimination by government because of race or religion -- again, equal protection means equal protection. No taxpayer -- no citizen -- may be treated unequally by government unless there is an overwhelmingly compelling reason that necessitates such treatment as a matter of public safety. While a case can be made that the imposition of such non-discrimination principles upon the private sector constitutes an unreasonable exercise of government power against property rights, the essential nature of government as a neutral protector of our liberties makes discrimination by it unacceptable.

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