Brownback Refuses to Budge on Religious Liberty

sam_brownback_7-18-15-1 Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback addresses the media about the legislative session during a press conference on Tuesday June 16, 2015, at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. (Chris Neal/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP)

Separated by America’s longest river, a man-made border, philosophy and religious beliefs, the neighboring chief executives of Missouri and Kansas have drawn lines in the sand on the issue of gay marriage that are as different as the divide between their political parties.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) refuses to budge on the issue of religious liberty and gay marriage.

He issued Executive Order 15-05, “Preservation and Protection of Religious Freedom,” on July 7. It is intended to protect the religious freedom of Kansas clergy and religious organizations.

Across the Missouri River in Kansas City, Mo., where gay marriage had been banned, Gov. Jay Nixon (D-Mo.) signed his own executive order, telling all Missouri state agencies and departments to immediately fall in line with the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision.

Brownback’s office said the Kansas Republican’s executive order recognizes protection of religious liberty from government infringement as a fundamental state interest and complements the protections of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section Seven of the Bill of Rights of the Kansas constitution.

Of course, this is all about gay marriage and the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized it in America.

Brownback said his executive order is not intended to circumvent the court’s ruling. He just wants to protect the rights of the Kansas religious community to politely — and legally — decline to bring one man and one woman together with one man and one woman, respectively.

In a nutshell, EO 15-05 prohibits state government from taking any discriminatory action against any “individual clergy or religious leader” or any “religious organization” that chooses not to participate in a marriage that is inconsistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.

“We have a duty to govern and to govern in accordance with the Constitution as it has been determined by the Supreme Court decision. We also recognize that religious liberty is at the heart of who we are as Kansans and Americans, and should be protected,” Brownback said in a statement that coincided with his signing of EO 15-05.

“The Kansas Bill of Rights affirms the right to worship according to ‘dictates of conscience’ and further protects against any infringement of that right,” he added. “Today’s Executive Order protects Kansas clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in activities that violate their sincerely and deeply held beliefs.”

Missouri Gov. Nixon (D) took exactly the opposite course of action.