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Equality Kansas wants lawmakers to add sexual orientation to anti-discrimination law

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, March 3, 2014, at 11:51 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, March 11, 2014, at 1:45 p.m.

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On the heels of an apparently successful effort to squelch a proposed state law to allow people to refuse service to gay couples for religious reasons, a leading gay advocacy group is now asking lawmakers to add sexual orientation to the state’s anti-discrimination law.

The change proposed by Equality Kansas would outlaw discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual individuals in Kansas. Current state law bars discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin or family status.

Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, said the group hopes to capitalize on a wave of anti-discrimination feeling that swept the Capitol after the House passed House Bill 2453.That bill that would have allowed individuals in government and private business to refuse to serve gay couples if doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs.

The bill easily passed the House, but stalled in the Senate, where leadership has declined to move the bill forward.

“People in the (Capitol) building are saying they don’t condone discrimination in any form,” Witt said. “Well let’s see it.”

Witt said discrimination against gay people is already widespread in Kansas because they are not protected from it like other minorities.

In the past, bills to outlaw anti-gay discrimination have passed out of committee in the Senate, but never made it to a full Senate vote, he said.

Witt said six weeks ago he couldn’t have predicted what would happen with HB 2453, so he’s not sure how a bill specifically against gay discrimination would fare in a floor vote now.

Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or dlefler@wichitaeagle.com.

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