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Archive for Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Panel reviews bill targeting anti-gay discrimination

March 16, 2005

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— A Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday in favor of expanding the state's anti-discrimination laws to cover gays and lesbians, but one opponent called the measure "the policy of hell."

Kansas law already bans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, gender, ancestry, national origin or disability. The bill would add sexual orientation to the list.

The Federal and State Affairs Committee's hearing came only three weeks before an April 5 election on a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution. The amendment would ban same-sex marriage and declare that only traditional unions of one man and one woman are entitled to the "rights and incidents" associated with marriage.

Steve Brown, of Prairie Village, said gays and lesbians are reluctant to report discrimination, knowing state law doesn't prohibit it.

"Kansas needs to send a message that it does not allow its citizens to be victims of discrimination based solely on their sexual orientation," said Brown, president of the Kansas Democratic Party's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Caucus.

Testifying against the measure were four members of Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for its anti-gay picketing.

Shirley Phelps-Roper called homosexuality "a monstrous sin," adding, "Your new policy will be the policy of hell and his majesty, the devil."

The committee took no action on the measure. Chairman Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, said he did not know when he will bring the bill up for a vote.

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