Brownback Refuses to Budge on Religious Liberty

“This landmark ruling was a historic step forward for our nation, and it has some very real benefits for families here in Missouri,” Nixon said. “As governor, I’m committed to protecting the rights of all Missourians, and that’s why this morning I am signing Executive Order 15-04 to ensure the Supreme Court’s ruling is implemented uniformly throughout state government.”

His office also said Nixon’s EO makes it clear local governments have an obligation to comply with this ruling.

Nixon also reiterated his call for the Missouri General Assembly to pass the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination against LGBT Missourians in employment, housing and public accommodations.

It looks like court challenges to Nixon’s order from organizations advocating opposition to gay marriage as a religious liberty are not on the horizon.

KMBC-TV reported the Missouri Baptist Convention Christian Life Commission and the Missouri Family Policy Council dropped a lawsuit they filed against Nixon’s 2013 executive order regarding the state’s recognition of gay marriages performed in other states.

Yet, court action could be coming in Kansas. The gay-rights organization Equality Kansas sees Brownback’s executive order as nothing but an attempt to nullify the Supreme Court’s ruing in Kansas.

“Our initial interpretation of this order is simple: It’s one part scare tactics, one part ducking his constitutional responsibility,” Equality Kansas posted on its blog the day Brownback issued the order.

“We are incredibly disappointed by Governor Brownback. Instead of treating LGBT Kansans fairly, his only act has been to double-down on treating us as second-class citizens.”

Equality Kansas leaders have also said their attorneys are looking into Brownback’s executive order. If there is an opportunity to challenge it in court, they said Brownback “will find himself facing some very expensive litigation.”

However, it may not have to come to that.

Tom Witt, the executive director of Equality Kansas, told the Kansas City Star Brownback does seem to be falling in line with the Supreme Court ruling “with more of a whimper than a bang.”

But, if Witt is wrong, Brownback should be able to bank on the support of groups like the Liberty Counsel based in Orlando, Fla.

Liberty Counsel is backing Irion County, Texas, Clerk Molly Criner, who has refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, despite the Supreme Court ruling.

“Natural marriage cannot be redefined by government without stepping out of the bounds of nature and nature’s God, who was recognized at the founding of our nation as the very source of our liberties,” Criner said.

Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said, “The Supreme Court has historically made a number of bad rulings that time and justice have been able to realize and overcome.”

“Like Molly, each of us should vow not to be intimidated but, instead, to stand united for our God-given liberties and the rule of law.”

Nor will Brownback stand alone among his colleagues. The attorneys general of 15 states, including Kansas, have sent a letter to congressional leaders asking them to protect the federal tax-exempt status of religious organizations that refuse to take part in gay marriages.