Voters in Two Kansas Cities Repeal Antidiscrimination Laws
Voters in two Kansas cities, Salina and Hutchinson, Tuesday repealed gay-inclusive antidiscrimination laws that had been adopted this year by the cities’ governing bodies.
The Salina ordinance prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; the one in Hutchinson covered sexual orientation only. The city councils in both communities agreed to put the ordinances to a public vote in response to petitions from opponents of the measures. Opponents’ arguments included denial that such discrimination exists and assertions that “sexual behavior” is not a reason for antidiscrimination protections.
Clinton Clark, a gay resident of Salina, told Wichita TV station KWCH that he hasn’t been discriminated against, but he knows other people who have been. “I hear stories,” he said. “I hear about people getting beat up and I hear about people getting made fun of.”
The Salina ordinance was repealed by a vote of 54% to 46%, while the Hutchinson law was voted down by a margin of 58% to 42%, The Wichita Eagle reports. “It’s clear we have a lot more educating to do,” Jon Powell, chairman of the Hutchinson chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition, an LGBT rights group, told the Eagle.
The votes leave Lawrence, home to the University of Kansas, as the only city in the state with an LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination law. Lawrence has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation since the mid 1990s, and it added gender identity to the law last year.
Activists have petitioned the city council in Wichita, Kansas’s largest city, to consider such an ordinance, but city officials claim it is not needed and would duplicate state law. State antidiscrimination law, however, does not cover sexual orientation or gender identity.