Controversy over anti-discrimination proposal in Wichita

Kansas

WICHITA (KSNT) – The Wichita City Council could vote on Tuesday to add an anti-discrimination ordinance, but the proposed city ordinance is already controversial before a vote.

“It just doesn’t go far enough,” said Kerry Wilks, chair of Equality Kansas.

Wilks says there is no enforcement written into the ordinance so it has no teeth.

“Marginalized communities including the LGBTQ community need enforceable policies,” said Wilks. “We need assistance that is real and that is not just words.”

Mayor Brandon Whipple said the enforcement side is a work in progress.

“We need to get something on the books,” said Whipple. “As is, the administration side can ensure this is enforced with contracts and with those who do business with the city. That’s easily done.”

Whipple says the city is working with the Human Rights Campaign to draft the ordinance because that group is the national standard for this type of policy.

“We will continue to improve the language to ensure it is as enforceable as it can be,” said Whipple. “So that the intent of the policy is achieved.”

Wilks fears with no immediate enforcement in place, the ordinance would not achieve equality.

“There’s a reason we need these policies,” said Wilks. “People get fired for being gay. People get kicked out of their homes and apartments for being gay.”

Wichita did have an anti-discrimination city policy in place in the 1970s. Part of that was repealed by voters a short time later. The rest of the policy was taken out in the 1990s.

“Yes, we need this and we will get it right,” said Whipple.

The council is scheduled to take action on the policy on Tuesday.

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