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Kansas Gov. Brownback showcases his impotence

In an attempt to do something — anything — in the face of marriage equality, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has issued an entirely superfluous and pointless executive order.

As Brownback's order recognized, the U.S. Constitution and the Kansas Constitution already protect the freedom of religion. Religion is even favored under the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act that Brownback signed into law in 2013.

But with the specter of two mature, consenting, loving adults marrying — regardless of their sex — Brownback is out to "preserve and protect" religion. Again.

Brownback's gratuitous order attempts to do three things. First, it says the clergy do not have to solemnize gay marriages. That right is already protected though. If clergy want to be a bigots or their religion dictates bigotry, they need not perform a gay marriage. Nobody has argued otherwise.

Second, Brownback tries to order the state government not to "take any discriminatory action against a religious organization" that refuses to provide services for gay marriages. This appears to be directed at religious bakers and florists, giving them carte blanche to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. But no executive order can provide a license to discriminate. Brownback's self-deception is rather astounding here. Notice that he labels a state action that enforces anti-discrimination laws a "discriminatory action." Only in the religious mind of a man who thinks that we need to "collectively repent of distancing ourselves from God" can such contradictions thrive. And only would someone who believes they are acting on behalf of an omnipotent dictator think they have the right to impose that "mind forg'd manacle" on everyone else.

Third, the order says that the state government "shall not take any discriminatory action against a religious organization that provides social services or charitable services, which acts or intends to act upon sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction." This may be directed at religious adoption agencies and similar organizations. Again, it appears to be an attempt to allow them to discriminate in the name of their god, which no executive order can do. This is reminiscent of the Catholic adoption services that are far more dedicated to their religion than to the children in their care, preferring to shut down rather than place children with loving LGBTQ couples.

The good news is that this executive order cannot add legal protections for religiously sanctioned prejudice. Just as the U.S. Constitution and the 14th Amendment successfully trumped states' bans on gay marriage last month, no state law and certainly not this hollow executive order, can trump rights that belong to LGBTQ citizens.

This order is really just Brownback proving to everyone that he cannot do anything to overturn marriage equality, no matter how many vows he makes to the contrary. This is just a sore loser showing his impotence.

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