The Roeland Park City Council took a progressive step this month, voting to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The council’s 4-4 tie was broken with Mayor Joel Marquardt’s vote in favor of the ordinance. It was actually the second time the council has voted on the issue, which includes protections for race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, ancestry and military status. On July 21, the council voted 4-3 against the anti-discrimination law. But Councilwoman Becky Fast, who had been in a car accident, missed the first vote.
Roeland Park residents were right to urge a new vote on the issue. The city, which has been talking about the matter most of this year, joins Lawrence as the only cities in Kansas to include sexual orientation and gender identity among protected classes.
If would be great if the Roeland Park vote would prompt other cities in Johnson County and elsewhere in Kansas to ban discrimination against vital members of their communities.
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Across the state line, Kansas City includes sexual orientation among protected classes. President Barack Obama signed an executive order last month preventing federal contractors from discriminating against gay workers.
However, all of those concerns have been contentious in the U.S. and locally, where people still face discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Some in Roeland Park are threatening to start a petition drive to force a public vote That is their right, but they want to turn back the clock. The city has taken a very progressive step forward toward equality. It’s up to the majority in Roeland Park not to let the city go backward now.