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Kansas Governor Issues Executive Order To Protect Opponents Of Gay Marriage

Stephen Koranda
KPR/File photo

The state of Kansas is trying to digest the meanings of two decisions: the extension of health benefits to state employees with same-sex partners, and an executive order from the governor on the protection of religious freedom.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage, the state on the one hand has had to comply with the ruling and offer state health coverage to government employees with spouses of the same sex. But on the other hand, Gov. Sam Brownback has issued an executive order which may be used to sanction discrimination, according to Doug Bonney, legal director of the Kansas American Civil Liberties Union.

"If those entities doing those kind of social service tasks through state contracts and with state funding say, we're not going to serve people who are married gay and lesbian families, this says the state is powerless to do anything about that kind of discrimination," Bonney says. "That's disappointing and frankly, outrageous."

From the AP:

But the order says state agencies can't alter contracts with individuals or religious groups, change their tax status or deny them licenses or tax breaks based on their refusal to perform same-sex marriages or provide services for such marriages.

Brownback says that the state government cannot go against the U.S. Constitution, which has in the Bill of Rights the freedom of religion.

Read the executive order below:

This story originally aired July 7, 2015, during All Things Considered.