Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

As you probably know, a group of religious leaders in Manhattan has gone on record with the City Commission supporting an ordinance to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in employment and public accommodations. Here is what the letter read at the December 1 meeting says:

Distinguished Commissioners:

As religious leaders, our traditions and denominations have different theological positions about many matters, including some of the specifics around sexual orientation and gender identity. One thing we can agree on, though, without equivocation, is that neither gender identity nor sexual orientation justifies discrimination in employment or public accommodation.

While same-sex marriage is now legal, there are still areas of equality that need to be addressed. When the state threatens to find gay men and lesbians unfit as parents, simply based on their sexual orientation, we can be sure that discrimination is alive and has not been driven underground. Yet, no federal or state law prohibits that kind of treatment. There are also no federal or state laws prohibiting discrimination in hiring practices or housing. LGBT people can still be fired simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We feel the need to speak out on this issue because religion is often cited as a justification for discriminatory action against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens. Our religious values oppose such bias and judgment, encouraging instead adherence to the principle of love for neighbor. Discrimination justified by religion is still discrimination.

We appreciate that Manhattan has implemented a policy to prohibit hiring discrimination for city employees due to sexual orientation, but more needs to be done. Other Kansas cities have created ordinances to provide protections which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We can, and should, do the same. We urge attention to this by our City Commission.

Thirteen ministers and pastors have signed the letter to date, and we are seeking more. If you missed the local media coverage, you can see the TV report here:

Of course, we recognize that more needs to be done than simply saying change must happen. This will likely be a lengthy and time-consuming effort that will involve much more than the religious community. Let me know if there are ways you would like to help.

In faith and freedom,

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