Archive for Thursday, February 12, 2009

Committee considers bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation

Gay-rights advocates urge bill’s passage

February 12, 2009


— Advocates for gay rights on Thursday urged lawmakers to approve legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“As long as any of us are treated unequally, we are all unequal,” said Pedro Irigonegaray, an attorney for the Kansas Equality Coalition.

But opponents of Senate Bill 169 told the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee that the measure would provide special protections for homosexuals.

At one point, state Sen. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha, asked whether the bill would protect bestiality.

That brought a rebuke from Irigonegaray. “The simple answer is no, and to correlate a human right with a crime is inappropriate.”

Committee Chairman Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, said he would talk with committee members later to see whether there was enough support to recommend the bill for approval.

“I honestly don’t know,” Brungardt said when asked whether there was a majority on the panel that supported the measure.

The bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Kansas Act Against Discrimination. That act prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, employment and housing based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin and ancestry.

Judy Smith, state director of Concerned Women for America, spoke against the bill, saying that civil rights should be used to protect people with visible and unchangeable characteristics. She said homosexuality is a chosen behavior.

Smith also argued that homosexuals aren’t politically powerless and generally earn more than heterosexuals.

“They don’t need protection because they have money?” asked Brungardt.

In addition to Smith, state Rep. Jan Pauls, R-Hutchinson, testified against the bill.

Those who spoke in favor were Irigonegaray, Maggie Childs, chair of the Kansas Equality Coalition, Cora Holt of Manhattan, who said she lost her job as a private college teacher because she is a lesbian, and Thomas Witt, a lobbyist with the Kansas Equality Coalition.


fearsadness14 9 years ago

i cannot believe the insensitivity and ignorance on display in this short story...

George_Braziller 9 years ago

"But opponents of Senate Bill 169 told the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee that the measure would provide special protections for homosexuals."

Oh yeah, "special protections" like not being refused a job, or fired from a job, or denied housing just because someone is gay.

LiberalDude 9 years ago

Wow, Judy Smith sounds like an idiot and a bigot.

It's sad that Kansas doesn't already have a law prohibitting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Tristan Moody 9 years ago

I'm saddened, but not surprised at the comments in the least. Kansas is mostly rural and small towns, and attitudes take a long time to change when your environment doesn't.

spankyandcranky 9 years ago

In my college psychology book over 10 years ago, I read that studies were showing sexual 'preference' was more affected by genetics than choice. I'm curious what the special protections in the bill are? I'm all for equality and legislation that prohibits discrimination of any kind.

The_Voice_of_Reason 9 years ago

"civil rights should be used to protect people with visible and unchangeable characteristics" First off this is the most archaic, backwards, idiotic statement I've heard in YEARS! And secondly, religion is a protected civil right, race, national origin and ancestry are protected rights... Are these things always "visible and unchangeable characteristics???" And finally, for a women that is the director of a women's group, this lady is a flamboyant bigot!

George_Braziller 9 years ago

Voice of Reason - You forgot to mention disability. Nearly ten percent of the population has a disability yet only a small number has any sort of "visible" clue such as use of a wheelchair, prosthesis, or communication device. Civil Rights protection based on disability status is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and prohibits discrimination related to employment, housing, and access to public accommodations.

Jillian Andrews 9 years ago

Disability is also covered on the state level in the Kansas Act Against Discrimination.

Sen. Pyle should be ashamed of himself. That comment is outrageous and completely ignorant. We don't need that kind of person in official office. I urge him to resign. NOW.

George_Braziller 9 years ago

My bad. I wrote my comment too broadly. Kansas Act Against Discrimination is State legislation, ADA is Federal. Either way they still cover discrimination based on disablity status.

hs_reader 9 years ago

Exactly, voice_of_reason, how can Judy Smith say (although she didn't literally, she just seems to have not read the Act) that someone's religion has "visible and unchangeable characteristics" and their sexual orientation and gender identity doesn't? I'm thinking that a cross dresser is a little more obvious of a target than someone who wears a cross under their shirt. And, yes, someone's religion can be visible (Islam, Judaism, etc) but I think that it has about the same visibility as sexual orientation and gender identity, it all depends on the person. And as for disabilities, it doesn't just refer to physical disabilities, mental are included, too. And of course, those can be just as obvious as the two I mentioned earlier, it all depends on the individual person.

AjiDeGallina 9 years ago

no, Don,

Anyone who supports discrimination is immediately labeled as a bigot, i

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