Manhattan City Commission passes anti-discrimination ordinance

Measure also adds new definition of gender identity

? The Manhattan City Commission has approved an ordinance that adds sexual orientation and a new definition of gender identity to its anti-discrimination policy.

Manhattan joins Lawrence as the only two cities in the state that have local ordinances that prohibit landlords, employers and others from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation.

Tuesday’s vote in Manhattan came after several residents testified in favor and in opposition to the ordinance, which has drawn considerable comment and controversy since it was introduced.

KMAN reported the commission passed the ordinance on a 3-2 vote.

The Manhattan ordinance also includes a new definition for gender identity. In Lawrence, the local chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition has lobbied city commissioners over the last two years to add gender identity as a class protected from discrimination. But the city’s Human Relations Commission has declined to recommend the change, and the City Commission has never taken a formal vote on the issue.

State law provides protection from discrimination in matters of employment, housing and public accommodations when it comes to race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, ancestry, or disability. But the state law does not provide protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity.