Kansas has elected a Democratic governor months after passing a law critics say discriminates against same-sex couples seeking to adopt.
With 63 percent of precincts reporting, Laura Kelly defeated Republican challenger Kris Kobach 50.4 percent to 41.2 percent. Should those estimates hold, it will be the first time since 2011 that Democrats have held the governor’s chair in Kansas.
Sam Brownback, who held the position since 2011, stepped down in January to become the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
A member of the Kansas Senate, Kelly campaigned largely against Brownback’s divisive record. One of America’s least popular governors, Brownback once called same-sex marriage “harmful to the future of the Republic.” He also believes LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes laws promote “an agenda [of] not allowing people to speak their beliefs about homosexuality.”
His successor, Jeff Colyer, signed a law allowing faith-based adoption agencies to deny placement to LGBTQ couples just four months after taking office.
The so-called “religious freedom” bill was passed in May. Critics of the legislation noted that it could also be used to refuse adoptions to interfaith couples, Muslims, Jews, unmarried partners, single people, or divorcees as long as placement centers cite religious grounds.
Kelly called the legislation “disgraceful.”
“I voted ‘No’ because it allows for discrimination against families and ignores the needs of our kids,” the state lawmaker claimed in a statement posted to her website.
It remains to be seen if Kelly will seek to repeal the law as governor of Kansas.
But Oklahoma, which also passed an anti-LGBTQ adoption law this year, is unlikely to join Kansas in turning blue. With 98 percent of precincts reporting in the Sooner State, Republican Kevin Stitt leads Democrat Drew Edmondson by 12.1 percent.
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