Robert Noland is the Executive Director of the Kansas Family Policy Council.
Across the country, there has been a rapid increase in requests for cities and counties to pass ordinances adding benefits to same-sex. In Kansas, this effort started in Manhattan about 18 months ago, when an ordinance was passed to establish domestic partner benefits. A new city council repealed the ordinance in Manhattan early in 2011.
However, efforts continue as homosexual activists are going from city to city, demanding that benefits be extended to domestic partners, or other ordinances related to “gender identity”. In the past few months Lawrence, Hutchinson, Salina, Wichita, and Pittsburg, Kansas have all been persuaded to consider such proposals. In some cases, within a few days of the introduction of a proposed ordinance, it came before the city council, with very little time for the public to be informed, let alone become involved in the process.
Some of these proposals are quite comprehensive—in Hutchinson, for example, the Human Rights Commission has recommended that sexual orientation and gender identity be added as protected classes, and that protection should apply to matters of employment, housing and public accommodations. This would extend to allowing men to use women’s restrooms if they identify themselves as being female, and forcing any business or organization—even a church—that provides public accommodations of any kind, to accept requests from homosexual couples or groups to use those facilities.
In Salina: a vote may take place within the next two weeks
In Hutchinson: the city council will vote on May 15
Wichita: Currently no action planned by the city council, but that could change
Pittsburg: The city council is deciding how to respond to the demands
Signatures are being collected for citizens to express opposition to these proposed ordinances, and possibly request a ballot referendum. In addition, the Kansas Family Policy Council website, awakenkansas.com, has links to allow citizens of Hutchinson and Salina to send their comments directly to the city council.
The concern is that if several larger cities in Kansas pass gender identity ordinances, the state legislature would come under pressure to make those rules effective statewide.
There is an attempt on a state level to curb all these individual attacks on the communities by puts cities in line with Kansas anti-discrimination ordinances which do not include gender identity. HB-2260 and its companion SB-142 has already passed the House and is awaiting passage in the Senate, which goes back into session briefly starting April 24. Technically these are religious liberty bills. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the federal “Religious Liberty Restoration Act” cannot apply directly to the states, so each state must develop its own legislation.
On a related matter, in California, Senate Bill 1172 would regulate “conversion therapy”, their term for counseling designed to help those who wish to leave the homosexual lifestyle. It would ban those under 18 from obtaining such services or counseling without parental approval. The bill states that it is impossible for a person to change sexual orientation, so those that want to help people do that are labeled as “bogus”. That bill is currently in the California Senate Judiciary Committee.
For more information about developments in Kansas:
Call the Kansas Legislative Hotline about HB-2260/SB-142:
In Kansas: 800-432-3924
Out of state: 785-296-2149
To contact the California Senate Judiciary Committee with your comments about SB-11272:
Members of the California State Senate Judiciary Committee:
Sen. Noreen Evans (Chair) 916-651-4002
Sen. Tom Harman (Vice Chair) 916-651-4035
Sen. Sam Blakeslee 916-651-4015
Sen. Ellen Corbett 916-651-4010
Sen. Mark Leno 916-651-4003