Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback today issued executive order 15-05, which purports to prohibit the state from discriminating against religious organizations that hold “the belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.” What the order really does is sanction government-funded discrimination, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The order is being portrayed as a measure designed to protect houses of worship from being compelled to participate in same-sex marriages. But as Americans United points out, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution already guarantees churches the right to offer religious sacraments only to the couples of their choosing.
The real purpose of the directive, Americans United asserts, is to allow religious organizations to discriminate against LGBT citizens and others – even when those groups are receiving taxpayer funding. For example, it will permit blatant discrimination against LGBT people by religious foster care agencies, homeless shelters, food pantries and other social service entities.
“Gov. Brownback’s order is a shameful attempt to clothe naked discrimination in the noble garment of religious freedom,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “It’s one of the more extreme overreactions we’ve seen in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality.”
Americans United today launched a new project, “Protect Thy Neighbor,” which is designed to help Americans whose rights are being violated by reckless attempts to turn the concept of religious liberty into a device to infringe on the rights of others. For more information, visit www.protectthyneighbor.org.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.