The governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, issued an executive order Tuesday that protects religious organizations and clergy from performing same-sex marriages in the state if it violates their religious beliefs. The order comes weeks after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriages legal throughout the country.
Kansas is by no means the only state to push back against the ruling since it was handed down in late June. Before the court's decision, 37 states and the District of Columbia had legalized same-sex marriages. The Kansas executive order allows any religious organization to opt out of participating in or administering gay marriages if they have a "sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction" that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
"We have a duty to govern and to govern in accordance with the Constitution as it has been determined by the Supreme Court decision. We also recognize that religious liberty is at the heart of who we are as Kansans and Americans and should be protected," Brownback said in a statement. "The Kansas Bill of Rights affirms the right to worship according to 'dictates of conscience' and further protects against any infringement of that right. Today's Executive Order protects Kansas clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in activities that violate their sincerely and deeply held beliefs."
Brownback's executive order is largely for show, however, considering that Justice Kennedy's decision already carved out an exemption for religious institutions. “Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned," Kennedy wrote in the majority decision. "The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”
Despite the ruling, officials in Texas and Alabama pushed back hardest on the judgment, which has been categorized as an "edict" from "unelected judges" by opponents of gay marriage, according to CNN.
"Importantly, the reach of the Court's opinion stops at the door of the First Amendment and our laws protecting religious liberty," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. "Even the flawed majority [same-sex marriage opinion] acknowledged there are religious liberty protections of which individuals may be able to avail themselves."
On Tuesday morning before Brownback's executive order, Kansas began accepting applications to add spouses of state workers married to someone of the same sex to their state health insurance benefits plans, according to Raw Story. The state is also reviewing the tax code to determine if same-sex couples can file taxes jointly.