I never pass up a chance to quote the Princess Bride. Never has this phrase been more applicable than in the case of the Wichita City Council’s discussion of a sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination ordinance.
On Tuesday July 13th, the Council voted 5-2 to delay discussing the ordinance for 90 days. This will give everyone in the community time to research the implications of this expansive ordinance. It is very important given that it wasn’t even clear which version of the ordinance the City Council was voting on, and several of the council members did not seem to understand the extensive impact of the public accommodation section of the ordinance.
Mayor Brandon Whipple has claimed that no one opposing the ordinance brought real problems with the actual wording of the ordinance. This is an absolute reinterpretation of events. In fact, there were several legitimate concerns expressed. The most repeated one, was how incredibly narrow the religious exemptions are. These exemptions would require a court to examine the inner workings of a church and dictate its behavior; things that courts generally refuse to do but that Mayor Brandon Whipple seems more than happy to do.
Further, as it is written, the ordinance does absolutely nothing to protect a business owner from allegations of discrimination. No matter how kind and reasonable he might be. Under this ordinance, allegations of discrimination could result in large fines, years of litigation, or ‘re-education’ by the City of Wichita.
Throughout the consideration of this ordinance, the mayor has portrayed his motives as pure while at the same time, turning this debate in to a personal matter first by attacking fellow councilmembers for opting to slow down the process on this proposal. Second, by claiming that Family Policy Alliance of Kansas only opposes the ordinance because we are we are using it as a fundraising opportunity. Yet, he has done these things while also using the issue for political gamesmanship, political gain and political fundraising (for his own campaign).
The majority of you reading this email don’t live in Wichita so you may feel like this doesn’t affect you. But it does. Activists have already pushed this through city councils in many of Kansas’ larger cities over the objections of the citizens who live there. They are pushing for similar language at the state level as well. So, if you haven’t seen it in your community – you likely will.
It is very important that we understand what this redefinition and reorientation of our nondiscrimination laws mean for everyday Kansans. If you want to read more, you can reference several articles we wrote several years ago. We can’t allow activist to redefine the terms or be asleep when they try.
It’s time to step up Kansans!
Brittany Jones, Esq.
Director of Advocacy