Michael Hiltzik reports on Kansas governor Sam Brownback’s move this week to revive the culture wars:
Brownback’s latest stunt is to abolish state employees’ protections against job discrimination based on sexual orientation. In an executive order Tuesday, Brownback reversed a 2007 order by his Democratic predecessor, Kathleen Sebelius, that had brought state anti-discrimination policies in line with most of corporate America and 31 other states.
….Possibly, Brownback is hoping to deflect attention from the disastrous condition of the Kansas state budget, which has been hollowed out by Brownback’s extremely aggressive tax-cutting. Income tax receipts continue to fall below Brownback’s rolling projections — the latest estimates show them coming in 2% below forecast made just last November.
….The economic suffering that Brownback’s policies have imposed on Kansans is bad enough; to add to the pain by removing protections against workplace harassment over sexual orientation is a new low.
As Hiltzik points out, there’s no special reason for Brownback to do this now. The anti-discrimination policy has been in place for eight years, and Brownback apparently felt no particular angst about it during his entire first term.
But things are different now. When he was first elected, Brownback promised that his planned tax cuts on the rich would supercharge the Kansas economy and bring about prosperity for all. That turned out to be disastrously wrong, and now he’s slashing spending on education and the poor to make up for the catastrophe he unleashed. This is understandably unpopular, so what better way to distract the rubes than to engage in a bit of gay bashing? That’ll get everyone riled up, and maybe they won’t even notice just how much worse off they are than they used to be. It’s a time-honored strategy.