KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Wyandotte County has become the first county in the state to pass an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Commissioners unanimously approved it last week.
"When you start getting to know a lot of different people and seeing that everyone has the same goals to be happy and be successful, why put all of these roadblocks up?" said Tom Alonzo, who helped pass the ordinance.
Alonzo has been working on this ordinance since 2015.
“There are laws in Kansas that protect against racial discrimination, against religious discrimination but there is nothing across the state protecting you against sexual orientation or gender identity. So, because of that, we have to count on our local communities,” said Brett Hoedl the chapter chair of Equality Kansas.
August 4 will mark four years since Roeland Park passed a similar ordinance.
Unlike the Unified Government, the council in Roeland Park initially voted their ordinance down.
“It was a pretty contentious battle, it was a hard-won victory in the end but it was well worth it,” said Michael Poppa who now serves on the Roeland Park City Council.
At the time, opponents argued it could cost businesses money and drive others out of the state.
“Businesses to my knowledge have not left the city because of the non-discrimination ordinance,” said Poppa.
Lawrence and Manhattan also have non-discrimination ordinances in place, which include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Equality Kansas is working with other cities in the state to pass similar ordinances.
“As long as one person is oppressed, we’re all oppressed,” said Alonzo.