Pressure builds to ban discrimination for cities in the metro

ROELAND PARK, Kan. - In the wake of religious freedom bills across the country, pressure is building to ban discrimination in local cities. Roeland Park City Councilwoman Megan England is working to pass an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. If passed, the ordinance would ban businesses from denying service to anyone in the LGBTQ community.

"This is long overdue for Roeland Park. This is long overdue for Johnson County and for the rest of Kansas. We cannot tolerate discrimination," England said, who started working on the ordinance more than a year ago. "Discrimination of any kind should not be tolerated.”

“It was brought to my attention that cities do have the authority to protect a class that the state is not protecting," she said.

While the state of Kansas bans discrimination based on race, sex and religious among other classes, it does not specially ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  According to Johnson County resident Tim Bair, it’s a discussion that needs to be had at every level

"I think that anytime someone decides that you're not going to get something or be able to be a human being in the way that you are, you were born, then that's wrong," Bair said.

The ordinance will go up for a vote on April 21, 2014. With the looming loss of Walmart, council members want to weigh the pros and cons so the cash-strapped city won’t compromise any future business opportunities.

"I just want people to be able to discuss it openly and understand the facts. I don't want it to be rushed through," Mayor Joel Marquardt said.

If passed, this would be second city in the Kansas to pass an ordinance banning discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity.

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