Kansas lawmaker switches parties over GOP's 'absurd' LGBTQ platform
"I can’t be complicit anymore,” State Senator Barbara Bollier said of her decision to leave the Republican party.
Kansas State Sen. Barbara Bollier speaks at the Statehouse in Topeka on April 26, 2018.John Hanna / AP file
By Tim Fitzsimons
Kansas State Senator Barbara Bollier has announced that after 43 years as a registered Republican and 10 years as a GOP lawmaker she is switching parties. The newly minted Democrat said Republicans’ stances on LGBTQ issues, particularly transgender rights, pushed her over the edge.
“My moral compass is saying, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ and you throw that in with Donald Trump, and just from a moral position, I can’t be complicit anymore,” Bollier said in an interview with NBC News.
Bollier’s switch does not come as a total surprise: She endorsed Democrats Laura Kelly for governor and Sharice Davids for Congress in the midterms and has clashed with state Republicans for reaching across the aisle.
Senator Bollier has a voting record more liberal than some Democrats, so it’s no shock she joined the party of Nancy Pelosi. The only surprise is that she didn’t end her facade of being a Republican sooner.#ksleghttps://t.co/rkD6vckGUq
In July, Kansas State Senate President Susan Wagle removed Bollier as vice chairwoman of the governing body’s health committee after Bollier endorsed Kelly and Davids. But the final straw was LGBTQ rights, Bollier said.
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“When the party adopted an anti-transgender piece to their platform,” Bollier explained, “that really, as a physician, set me over the edge, because we have more than XX and XY, and gender is a very complicated and important thing.”
Earlier this year, the Kansas Republican Party modified its platform to include the following language: “We believe God created two genders, male and female. Therefore, as defined by the Kansas Constitution, the benefits and privileges of marriage exist only between one man and one woman.”
“It’s absurd,” Bollier added.
Bollier also cited the Kansas GOP’s opposition to Medicaid expansion and gun-violence-prevention measures as additional factors. She said gun violence is a “crisis, including suicide” and called for more efforts to address the issue.
Bollier represents State Senate District 7, which is “very moderate” and has “elected moderate Republicans for a long period of time,” Bollier said. District 7 covers suburbs in the metropolitan Kansas City area and overlaps with the congressional district of newly elected Democrat Sharice Davids, an out lesbian.
Bollier has already been accepted with open arms by the Democratic party.
“Senator Bollier rightfully stood up against discrimination and bigotry and left the party that is set on rolling back the progress we have made,” Lucas Acosta, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, told NBC News.
Previously, as a moderate Republican, Bollier said she had been attacked by both Democrats and conservative Republicans.
“For the first time ever, I will have a party standing behind me at election time, which will be a nice change,” Bollier, who is on the ballot in 2020, said.