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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/8/15

Sam Brownback (R-KS) Signs Sweeping Anti-LGBT Executive Order

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I'm currently unaware of any intent -- by anyone -- to get churches who do not believe in Gay Marriage to force them to recognize the same. In the same way that I have, to this point, not made an active point of storming into churches to pronounce they recognize my marriage to my heterosexual partner... I guess they could recognize it, or not, I just haven't been that consumed in making them worry about it.

It is in section (B) however, that the Governor goes a step farther:

"...organization declines or will decline to solemnize any marriage or to provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, celebration or recognition of any marriage."
Because the government equates providing services with "accommodations, facilities, goods or privileges" we get into a VERY tricky area. Many hospitals and emergency trauma centers throughout the state exist as religiously held entities. The nearest hospital to me, in Overland Park, as an example is 7th Day Adventist. Nearby, a Catholic Hospital also exists -- both intake emergency (911) care.

Under the standard practiced by Kansas, the marital vows of an LGBT couple could be renounced in the confines of that hospital, leaving married partners unable to speak to the life care decisions of a sick or ill partner.

In an effort to stir up hysteria over continued claims of groups forcing churches to recognize gay couples despite their beliefs, Governor Brownback conflates the public sphere -- which has long acknowledged remarriage of Catholic spouses without the church required annulment -- with the private religious sphere.

In their haste to continue the fear and uncertainty about gay marriage in Kansas, the Governor's quick drafting work creates a situation in which one of the key benefits of marriage -- the ability to speak for a partner's life choices when ill -- may stand at risk.

Update: I've spoken to Thomas Witt, Executive Director of Equality Kansas, who pointed out that Gov. Brownback's Executive Order cannot over-ride statute, and that federal acceptance of funds for hospitals would make them unlikely to take the risk. Still, what the executive order does do is signal continued opposition to change on the issue, and helps create marketplace confusion. More importantly, it continues to hype the fear of a non-issues and conspiracies in order to stoke the fire of those who want to propose conspiracy theories over the issue: "Its a tantrum."

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