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Even Westboro Baptist Church’s Hometown Has Had Enough of Discrimination

Even Westboro Baptist Church’s Hometown Has Had Enough of Discrimination

Well, I knew it would happen eventually; Kansas is slipping into the depths of hell. You’re skeptical? Listen to this: the Topeka City Council is considering an anti-discrimination ordinance that would include sexual orientation and gender identity. Yeah, that Topeka, home of the Westboro Baptist Church. Whoa.

The ordinance was proposed by Chad Manspeaker in June, but the city council will formally consider the proposal next week. The ordinance, if adopted, would expand the Topeka Human Rights Commission to include protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals.

Topeka isn’t the first city in Kansas to consider such an ordinance. A few years ago Manhattan, KS, considered something similar. The non-discrimination ordinance actually passed the city commission, but was repealed only a few months later. The cities Salina and Hutchinson also had non-discrimination ordinances until they were both repealed last year. Lawrence, KS, is the only city in the state to include gender identity in its non-discrimination ordinance.

As someone raised in Kansas, I can’t say that I’m entirely unsurprised. (I’m a little surprised, but I’ll get to that in a minute.) Kansas gets a bad rap for being ridiculously conservative, but it’s by no means a monolith, and it would be a mistake to assume so. There is texture and nuance that become apparent once you’ve spent a little time with the people here.

That said, when it comes to the law, it’s not great to be gay or trans in Kansas. We don’t allow same-sex marriages (a law and a state constitutional amendment). We don’t allow trans people to alter their birth certificates. (As an aside, this can actually lead to some absurd results for a state hell-bent on keeping gay people from marrying. The sex you are at birth is the sex you are forever, so if you’re a trans woman, you can marry a woman because you’ll always be male in the eyes of the state). The state legislature couldn’t even muster the strength to repeal the anti-sodomy law that is still on the books when they had the perfect opportunity to do so.

This is why I find the proposed ordinance to be a bit surprising. There doesn’t seem to be a political cost to being anti-gay, nor does there seem to be much to gain from promoting LGBT rights. This is also why I find the proposed changes so encouraging. The Human Rights Commission voted 7-0 in favor of the proposal back in June. Now it has to pass the city council. It won’t fix everything wrong in the state for LGBT people, but I’m hopeful that this will be a step toward a more inclusive and progressive state.

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108 comments

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12:46AM PDT on Sep 19, 2013

One small step for Kansas... but at least it is forward.... I have spent time in this State, very behind the Times !!!

6:33PM PDT on Sep 17, 2013

More hopeful notes:
SEVERAL of the children who grew up in the Westboro Baptist Cult, as soon as they became old enough, conscious enough, LEFT the Cult, ran away, hid if they had to for awhile. Several of them have told their stories - which include beatings and verbal abuse by the male parents. {It's a horrible Patriarchy.} They've made books, magazine interviews, talks, etc.

Also - there's that RAINBOW HOUSE on property just opposite the Church headquarters!
Yes, a house painted in Rainbow Colors, nothing illegal about that!
I think that's sheer BRILLIANCE, in fact.
[I assume it's still there.]
Maybe THAT'S why this progressive ordinance is contemplated - or maybe that House demonstrates how Times they are a'changin'.

12:47PM PDT on Sep 16, 2013

I like Kansas, you can see where you're going and where you are. The people are pretty nice generally.

I don't like bigotry, in fact I'm kind of a bigot about it.

I don't like having things shoved down my throat.

I think Kansas will change as a younger generation appears and as more tv shows and people stand up and say, hey I'm a person. You like me, guess what? My sexual orientation is mine. Keep your beliefs out of my bedroom, I'll keep mine out of yours.

8:49AM PDT on Sep 16, 2013

If it becomes law, WBC will scream that they're being "persecuted for righteousness sake". They want to take away the rights of others, but don't dare touch WBC's rights.

3:52AM PDT on Sep 16, 2013

Good. Even one step forward in the right direction is good.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.

3:37PM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

ty

8:19AM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

One small step at a time for Kansas

7:18AM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

mean people suck, but studies have shown that people who are the most vocal against gays are the ones who respond to gay porn the most. Their screaming rants and protests may reveal more about who the leader is than he wants. And I think the 'church' needs to be investigated for how it treats its children.....what they are doing is abuse, but what kind of abuse?

3:40AM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

thanks for sharing

12:13AM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

Westboro Baptist Church, doing it's best to give religion a black eye........government is populated by individuals who make mistakes....and a lot have been made in Kansas.....feel free to join the rest of us in the year 2013......gay rights, gay marriage are coming to your neck of the woods whether you like it or not.......time to evolve......

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