A group of Lawrence business leaders and churches is hoping to thwart an effort to include gender identity in the city’s anti-discrimination policy.
The group will host a meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, at Christ Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church, 2312 Harvard Road. The event is free and open to the public.
The meeting is sponsored by Voice of Reason and, according to a flier for the meeting, the group wants to show how the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender “agenda is attempting to transform our culture and how we should respond.”
Greg Cromer helped organize the gathering. He said it is in response to an ordinance passed in Manhattan that protects people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in housing, public accommodations and employment. An ordinance in Lawrence includes sexual orientation but not gender identity.
Cromer said the purpose of the meeting is to educate the public on the effect of the Manhattan ordinance.
He said inclusion of gender identity to a local ordinance could interfere with the operations of business and religious beliefs. He could not provide specifics, saying that was what the meeting will be about. He said the Manhattan ordinance has created “turmoil.”
“These are the types of issues that need to be brought to the forefront,” Cromer said.
A flier for the meeting states, “While we do not support unjust discrimination for persons choosing LGBT lifestyle, we do believe the tradition of natural law must be respected and remain the order. This is why we have chosen to educate the community about the consequences created through ordinances that defy the natural order of human sexuality.”
Speaking at the meeting will be representatives of several groups that opposed the Manhattan ordinance. They include Awaken Manhattan, the Alliance Defense Fund, Concerned Women for America and Kansas Family Policy Council.
The Lawrence/Douglas County chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition wants Lawrence leaders to include gender identity in its anti-discrimination policy.
Thomas Witt, chairman of the Kansas Equality Coalition, said the addition of gender identity would have positive effects on the community. He said Lawrence has for years prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, and that hasn’t hindered businesses or growth.
“That should be proof that banning discrimination is good,” he said.