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July 08, 2015

Kan. Order Shields Faith Groups Objecting to Gay Marriage

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued an executive order Tuesday barring the state from withdrawing tax exemptions or otherwise penalizing religious nonprofits that refuse to recognize same-sex marriages or provide services to gay couples, The Washington Post reports.

The Republican governor's move arises from last month's Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex unions nationwide and shifted the marriage-equality debate to the terrain of religious liberty.

Mr. Brownback said he was acting to protect "Kansas clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in activities that violate their sincerely and deeply held beliefs." Gay-rights groups condemned the order, which Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, said has "nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with enabling discrimination."

The attorneys general of 14 states are urging Congress to protect the tax status of faith-affiliated nonprofits in the wake of the gay-marriage ruling, writes the Chattanooga Times Free Press. In a letter to congressional leaders, the top legal officials of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin called for revising the tax code to prevent the Internal Revenue Service from yanking tax exemptions for religious groups that object to same-sex marriage.