ACLU of Kansas Condemns AG Kobach’s Attempt to Erase Court Order for Correct Transgender Birth Certificates
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 23, 2023
CONTACT: Esmie Tseng, ACLU of Kansas, [email protected]
TOPEKA, Kan. – The ACLU of Kansas vehemently condemned a motion filed late Friday night by Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, where he requested permission to no longer follow a 2019 federal court order that requires the state to issue corrected birth certificates with accurate gender markers to transgender Kansans.
Attorney General Kobach filed his motion asking that the state no longer be compelled to uphold the constitutional rights of transgender Kansans, as federal courts required in the 2019 case of Foster v. Andersen, because of the passage of a new anti-trans state law, SB 180.
“No matter how much Attorney General Kobach and extremists in our state legislature may wish to, they cannot erase the fundamental protections the Constitution guarantees to every single LGBTQ+ Kansan,” said Micah Kubic, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kansas. “Mr. Kobach should rethink the wisdom—and the sheer indecency—of this attempt to weaponize his office’s authority to attack transgender Kansans just trying to live their lives.”
In Foster, through a consent judgment issued in 2019, a federal district court required the state to issue corrected birth certificates with accurate gender markers to transgender people born in Kansas. The lawsuit, filed in 2018, had challenged Kansas’s policy prohibiting corrected birth certificates as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiffs in the case were represented by a team from the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a national civil rights organization that focuses on LGBTQ+ communities.
Mr. Kobach’s motion is premised on the idea that the state of Kansas need no longer enforce the 2019 consent judgment because the state legislature this year passed SB 180, the so-called “Women’s Bill of Rights.” The bill, set to take effect July 1 after the legislature overrode Governor Laura Kelly’s veto, would codify into state law scientifically outdated and misleading definitions of sex. The bill does not include any enforcement provisions, nor does it create any new crimes or civil offenses. The extreme vagueness of SB 180 has caused a wave of panic and confusion among LGBTQ+ Kansans and advocates across the state.
“Foster properly reminded the state of Kansas about the inability of the state to infringe on the constitutional rights of LGBTQ+ Kansans,” said Kubic, “What was true in 2019 remains true today: the state of Kansas cannot pick and choose which constitutionally protected rights it will recognize, and to deny any constitutional right to LGBTQ+ Kansans is unconstitutional and antithetical to our shared values. It’s troubling to see Mr. Kobach cynically seize an opportunity for political gain that will no doubt ultimately be another round of continuing legal education for him.”
In a release, Lambda Legal promised to “vigorously oppose this gimmick by Attorney General Kobach… to nullify a binding, years-old federal judgment. In the meantime, lest there be any doubt, the state’s Office of Vital Statistics cannot refuse applications to correct gender markers.”
“As the state’s chief lawyer, an attorney general has an obligation to uphold and protect Kansans’ civil rights and civil liberties,” said Kubic. “It is disappointing—but, given his record as a public official, unsurprising—that Mr. Kobach has chosen to instead use his office to attempt to undermine the rights of Kansans. The Attorney General’s office is tasked with a vast array of duties from protecting consumers against fraud to advocating for victims of crime. Kansans would much prefer that he attend to those priorities.”
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About the ACLU of Kansas: The ACLU of Kansas is the statewide affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Kansas is dedicated to preserving and advancing the civil rights and legal freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For more information, visit our website at www.aclukansas.org.