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Kansas Senator leaves Republican party over transgender rights

Senator Barbara Bollier, a 10-year Republican lawmaker in Kansas, has announced she is becoming a Democrat. Bollier−a physician from Mission Hills−cited disagreements with the Republican Party over LGBT issues, specifically transgender rights and her disagreements with President Donald Trump.

Bollier’s bolting from the Republican Party did not come unexpected. In July she had threatened to leave the GOP after Kansas Senate President, Susan Wagle of Wichita, removed Bollier from the Vice-Chairmanship of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee after Bollier endorsed Democrats, Laura Kelly for Governor and Sharice Davids for Congress, whom both won their races.

Known as a moderate Republican who had identified with the GOP for over 40 years, including 10 years combined in the Kansas House and Senate, Bollier’s departure was described by Wagle as a surprise it did not happen sooner.

“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 façade of being a Republican sooner.

Transgender rights was what Bollier called was “the final straw” in her decision to leave the Republican Party. During this year’s election cycle, the Kansas GOP adopted a platform, including the statement “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.

Bollier, who will face re-election to the Kansas Senate in 2020, has also expressed her disagreements with the Kansas Republican Party over Medicaid expansion and gun control.

Kansans for Life, the state’s leading pro-life group, has called Bollier “the leading strident voice opposing every Kansas pro-life bill.” Kansas Senate Democratic leader Anthony Hensley welcomed Bollier’s defection from the Republican Party, calling her “a longtime friend and respected colleague.”

Despite Bollier’s party switch, Republicans will still hold a 30 to 10 seat supermajority in the Kansas Senate and control 85 of the 125 seats in the Kansas House of Representatives.