Kansas Governor Sam Brownback made headlines this week after he issued an executive order that repealed employment discrimination protection for LGBT state employees. The protections were originally put in place by his predecessor, Kathleen Sebelius, and made it illegal for the state government to discriminate against state employees just because they were afflicted with The Gay, The Bi, and/or The Trans. We imagine when Brownback signed the order his tiny Grinch heart shrank three sizes that day.
The response to Brownback was swift and immediate, but we can hardly call his move surprising. As we’ll see in this retrospective of Sam Brownback’s Worstest Hits, this last dick move was just the latest dick move in an unbroken dick move combo. If Sam keeps this up, the announcer voice will interrupt to yell MARVELOUS!! and Sam can earn a bonus round.
Brownback first hit the national stage in 2003 when, as a member of the U.S. Senate, he introduced the infamous Federal Marriage Amendment, which attempted to enshrine in the US Constitution a permanent ban on gay marriage. Lawrence v. Texas had (apparently) made gay sex mandatory nationwide that previous summer, and the Massachusetts Supreme Court had just a few weeks prior made it legal for gays to get married like they were people or something.
Sam would have none of that equality claptrap, so he went to the floor of the Senate with a Constitutional amendment to reverse what Massachusetts had done. You may be saying that sounds awfully hypocritical of Sam to interfere with states’ rights to set their own laws, and you would be correct. At the time, Republicans were in the “federalist” phase of their manic mood swings, an authoritative image that is maintained so long as they occupy the White House but immediately dropped the minute Democrats win office.
The Bush White House had to present a commanding image to the public, what with two wars in full swing (three if you count that concrete enemy “Terror”) and a Presidential election coming up. Remember how Bush/Cheney won re-election with no economic plan and no timeline to withdraw from Iraq or Afghanistan? You have Sam Brownback to thank for that! His fortuitous push to ban gay marriage nationwide was the red meat that fired up the conservative base long enough to get Bush re-elected. After all, nothing gets the right-wing salivating like the chance to make other people miserable.
Of course the amendment was a joke — it had no chance of even leaving Congress let alone facing ratification by the states, but it didn’t need to have a chance. As 50-some-odd votes to repeal Obamacare have proven, you don’t need to actually do anything to get conservatives rallied behind you. It’s the thought that counts.
Brownback faded into the background after 2004, his work as a Bush administration dog of war complete for now. He returned with gusto in 2006, when in the course of a routine judicial confirmation, he blocked up the entire proceeding to investigate for Un-American activities, namely acknowledging that gay people exist.
The judge in question was Michigan state judge Janet Neff. Somehow Brownback had been tipped off that Neff had attended a same-sex commitment ceremony back in 2002. That’s “attended” — she didn’t officiate it or get married to a lady person herself; she was just present for one, and in Brownback’s mind that was enough to instigate a full scale witch hunt. The fact that the witch hunt coincided with Sam’s exploratory committee to run for president in 2008 was pure coincidence:
Brownback came under criticism after saying he wanted to know “whether there was anything illegal or improper” about the ceremony and wanted to question Neff about her views on gay marriage, saying it raised questions about her “view of judicial activism.” He had said: “I’d like to know more factually about what took place.”
“Anything illegal or improper” is a brilliant bit of spin. It’s never been illegal to have a commitment ceremony (what with their meaning being purely symbolic and non-binding), but the insinuation that such a thing is against the law really helped Sam to brush off criticism that he was being a gay-hunting dingus.
When pressed, Sam admitted that he didn’t believe Neff could be impartial to court cases involving same-sex marriage, in the same way that a judge who once fired a gun could never be impartial towards a defendant in a gun homicide, we’re sure. His “compromise” was that Neff swear that she would recuse herself from all cases involving same-sex unions, which is all fine and dandy except for the fact that it’s illegal for a legislator to force a judge to do that. You gotta break a few laws to prevent lawbreaking, right?
After Sam’s 2008 presidential aspirations fizzled, not unlike a house fly that lands on a stove burner, he got himself elected as the Governor of Kansas in 2011, and went right to work toolbagging it up again. In the early hours of 2012 he pulled a double whammy by refusing to officially repeal the state sodomy ban (i.e. the thing that had been unenforceable for the past nine years), and by advancing a bill that would have invalidated all local anti-discrimination laws, proving that discriminating against gays is not exactly a new flavor to Sam’s palate.
While the press was distracted with gays being openly vilified by the state government, Sam made his move by introducing the biggest tax cut in Kansas history not a few months later. The cut was so massive (and so skewed toward the rich) that it was projected to lead to a budget shortfall within two years of introduction, and what do you know? That’s exactly what it did!
Now with the latest news of Sam Brownback’s completely expected bankrupting of Kansas, he figured it was time to fall back on a tried and true distraction technique: scapegoating the gays. It’s a perfect set-up — the press will flip their lids over Brownback being openly bigoted against gays (like it’s something new?). The left will react by trying to fight him on anti-discrimination law, and the right will rally behind him because he’s given them a golden opportunity to treat their fellow men like shit (and isn’t that what Jesus was all about?). Meanwhile people will stop paying attention to Kansas’ budget, finances, or massive cuts to social services. All part of the plan.
In conclusion, what Sam Brownback did to state employees is reprehensible. Hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender state employees now face the very real possibility that they can lose their jobs because their boss doesn’t care for what they do with their sinful bits in their off-time. But let’s not forget why Sam does this. He does it because it works to keep people off his dick. If one focuses on his naked bigotry (or rather naked, flabby, and impotent), it’s pretty easy to overlook the fact that he burned Kansas to the ground in his zeal for Ayn Rand brownie points. That’s what Sam is betting on when he pulls moves like these and endangers people’s livelihoods. He figures it’s the best way to preserve his own.
Lastly, if you’re still not convinced of Sam Brownback’s douchecanoe status, let’s end our time together with a moment of funny by remembering that he once had his office personally attack a teenage girl for being mean to him on the Twitter, like a giant baby.
The fact that Sam eventually got out-foxed by an eighteen-year-old says an awful lot about her (that she’s a boss), but it says even more about him (that he’s an ass).