Topeka — Jeff Potter of Horton said Tuesday that everything was going good at his job where he was working as a machinist in a tool and die shop.
He was being groomed to buy the business when the owner asked if he was homosexual, Potter told the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee.
Potter said he answered that he was.
He was then fired.
That left Potter without a job and health insurance.
Because state law doesn't ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, he said he was also left without any legal recourse.
"Never before have I felt so alone, abandoned and vulnerable," he said.
Potter and others testified in favor of Senate Bill 163 which would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation. State law already prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, family status, national origin or ancestry.
The committee took no action on the measure.
Chairman Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, said he would confer with other committee members in private to determine if they wanted to work on the legislation.
Personally, he said, he supported banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.
"It's a fairness thing. I've had concerns that people are being discriminated against for no good reason," Brungardt said.
Only one person spoke against the bill -- state Rep. Janice Pauls, D-Hutchinson.
She said Kansans with strong religious beliefs against homosexuality shouldn't be forced to hire a homosexual.
State Sen. Roger Reitz, R-Manhattan, however, disagreed, saying it was wrong for people to be denied work because of their sexual orientation.
"It is incredibly unfair and offends my sense of justice," he said.
Pauls also said homosexuals should not be a protected class, such as African-Americans, because African-Americans have no choice in their color.
"Those of a different sexual orientation are not visible in our society unless they choose to be," she said
But Thomas Witt, chair of the Kansas Equality Coalition, said courts have ruled that sexual orientation is unchangeable.
And, he added, although the history of discrimination against African-Americans is different than that of gays and lesbians, "it does not mean that one group is `more deserving' of not being discriminated against than another."
Witt said 27 states have adopted some level of protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation
Bonnie Cuevas of Topeka said her son lives out of state because of the lack of protections in Kansas.
"It does not make sense that we are now fighting a war in Iraq to establish democracy and freedom for its citizens, while in the United States our gay and lesbian citizens have not yet been granted full equality under the law," she said.
The Kansas Human Rights Commission, which is charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws, took no stand on the bill.