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Our Mission is to
End Discrimination Based on
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
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The Kansas Equality Coalition is a unified statewide group of fair-minded people who are determined to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We seek to ensure the dignity, safety and legal equality of all Kansans.

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About Our Members

The Equality Coalition currently has chapters in KC Metro, Hutchinson, Northwest Kansas, Lawrence/Douglas County, Riley/Geary Counties, North Central Kansas, Southeast Kansas, Southwest Kansas, Topeka, Central Plains, and Wichita/Sedgwick County.

Our current membership stands at nearly 2000 Kansans from all walks of life.

Kansas Equality Coalition Chapters

Ballot Measures in Hutch, Salina Fail

In late 2010, the Flint Hills Human Rights Project was successful in persuading the Manhattan, Kansas city council to add sexual orientation and gender identity to their local human rights ordinance. The 3 to 2 decision was not to stand, however, as right-wing activists successfully elected new city councilmen the following April, who immediately repealed the new ordinance. At the same time, the Kansas Legislature was considering a bill, HB2260, that would make all local non-discrimination laws that included sexual orientation and gender identity unenforceable.

In the spring of 2011, Kansas Equality Coalition members from around the state met to discuss how we could continue to take the issue of non-discrimination to our local communities. Mindful of the recent loss in Manhattan and the legislative efforts to undo our gains, it was understood by all present that the chances of victory were small. No one, however, looked at the unlikelihood of success as a reason not to try.

Members discussed the stalled progress in Lawrence, where local chapter members had for the previous several years been working with the Lawrence Human Relations Commission on obtaining a favorable ruling on adding “gender identity” to their local ordinance. In Wichita, there was a long-standing desire to restore that city's civil rights ordinance, which, in 1977, included “sexual preference” until repealed in 1978 as part of Anita Bryant's anti-gay crusade. In 1999, the Wichita City Council quietly repealed the rest of the ordinance.

There were several cities that were considered for making a renewed case for equality. Lawrence, already inclusive of sexual orientation protections, was clearly at the top of the list for positive change. In September of 2011, the chapter took their request to add gender identity directly to the city commission, where they won on a 4 to 1 vote.

In November, the Hutch chapter made a public request for inclusion to their city council, which referred it to their local human rights commission for a series of public hearings. In Salina, members followed the same path, working with city commission and human rights commissioners to bring their issue to a vote in mid May of 2012.

At every step of the way the opposition, lead by Robert Noland of the Wichita-based Kansas Family Policy Council, publicly opposed our efforts. They made the wild and offensive claims their playbook has been using for years – that we were a danger to children, that men would rape children in bathrooms, that we are out to destroy the American family, and even that we are nothing more than HIV/AIDS carriers.

In the beginning, Noland's fear and smear tactics did not work. The City of Salina passed a fully-inclusive ordinance at the end of May, adding employment, housing, and public accommodations protections based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. In the City of Hutchinson, however, chapter leadership made a last-minute compromise which severely watered down their local ordinance: only sexual orientation was included, and that for firings and evictions only. Gender identity was dropped as the only means to convince the swing-vote on the city council, Bob Bush, to agree.

Immediately after passage, Noland began his drive to repeal both ordinances. Under Kansas state law, city residents may, with enough valid signatures, petition their local governments for passage or repeal of specific ordinances. Petitions were submitted to both cities in early August. By law, the cities had two choices: repeal the non-discrimination ordinances, or submit the repeal question to the voters.

In Salina, the city commission stood its ground: there would be no repeal, and instead, the question would be on the November ballot.

With the mid-August deadline quickly approaching, the Hutchinson chapter decided to present a petition of their own: fully include sexual orientation in the city's local non-discrimination ordinance for protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations. As with the original ordinance passed in June, however, the Hutchinson chapter's leadership chose to leave “gender identity” out of their new proposal. Both KEC's and Robert Noland's petitions were presented to the Hutchinson City Commission in early September. The hope among Hutchinson leadership was that both ballot measures would be sent to the voters, setting up a situation where one measure would repeal the existing ordinance, and where the other would enact a new ordinance with expanded protections, albeit excluding gender identity. Unfortunately, the swing-voter on the Hutchinson city council sided with the repeal proponents, voting to repeal the June ordinance and to send the KEC version to the voters.

With the actions of the two city councils, there were now two simultaneous campaigns in progress: In Hutchinson, the message was to vote “yes” to pass a mostly-inclusive ordinance, while in Salina, the message was to vote “no” against legalizing discrimination.

The messaging strategies of the two chapters was very different. In Hutchinson, newspaper and television ads attempted to challenge the misinformation being spread by Robert Noland's campaign, specifically highlighting the facts that the ordinance would not legalize gay marriage, and that “transgenders aren't included.” One example of a Hutchinson chapter TV ad can be seen at http://youtu.be/UdIpkT1Clqw. Their messaging strategy, developed by Catalyst Creative Services, a Hutchinson public relations firm, also focused on a “yes” vote being one for fairness. There was a heavy emphasis on social media and pictures of individuals holding placards with statements about why they were voting “yes.”

In Salina, the focus was on not legalizing discrimination – remember, the ordinance banning LGBT discrimination had been in effect since late May, and repealing it would legalize a currently banned practice. One of Salina's TV ads can be seen at http://youtu.be/S4NxjQWZOcs. Developed largely in-house, the Salina campaign stayed largely on the message that non-discrimination and diversity are good for the local economy. Local businesses with inclusive policies were highlighted in mailers and newspaper inserts, and were discussed with voters by volunteers. A highlight of the Salina campaign was the a door-to-door canvass that, in two short months, tallied nearly 7000 door-knocks and over 2000 voter contacts.

Ultimately, both efforts were lost. The Salina ordinance was repealed on a 54% to 46% vote (9079 to 7686 in favor of repeal), and the Hutchinson ordinance failed to pass on a 58% to 41% vote (8110 to 5783 against passage).

Moving forward, we are exploring our legal options. We will also be conducting a full review of the project, from conception to proposals to campaigns. What worked? What failed? Did the Hutchinson chapter's decision to emphasize the exclusion of gender identity play a role in the greater margin of loss than in Salina?

This fight is not over. It has only just begun.

News & Events

Good morning -

To the best of our knowledge, there are currently 25 counties in 12 judicial districts that are issuing marriage licenses:

Brown (22)
Chase (5)
Cherokee (11)
Clay (21)
Cloud (12)
Cowley (19)
Crawford (11)
Doniphan (22)
Douglas (7)
Harvey (9)
Jewell (12)
Johnson (10)
Labette (11)
Lincoln (12)
Lyon (5)

[ Posted: Monday Nov 24 2014, 8:18 am | More Details...]

Greetings all -

This is a follow-up to our previous breaking news that the Kansas Supreme Court has lifted its stay on marriages in Johnson County. The high points from their order:

- Johnson County may begin issuing marriage licenses to all previous applicants first thing tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

- Johnson County Chief Judge Moriarty was acting within his authority to interpret state law, the state constitution, and the various rulings and orders from the Federal courts, when deciding whether to issue licenses to same-sex couples.

[ Posted: Tuesday Nov 18 2014, 6:36 pm | More Details...]

Moments ago, the Kansas Supreme Court lifted the stay on marriage license issuance in Johnson County. From the order:

"The court orders that its October 10 temporary stay of Chief Judge Moriarty's Amended Administrative Order 14-11 be lifted immediately."

Those couples with applications pending in Johnson County may go pick up their marriage licenses as early as tomorrow.

The order is lengthy, and we are reviewing it now for its impact statewide. More to follow.
[ Posted: Tuesday Nov 18 2014, 5:10 pm | More Details...]

Greetings all -

The Kansas Supreme Court is currently conducing private deliberations on the State v Moriarty case, where Attorney General Schmidt demanded in October that same-sex marriages be stopped.

There will be no hearing, and no oral arguments. We are hoping the court issues an order or ruling today, or at least within the next few days.

Some counties are issuing marriage licenses without waiting for the Kansas court to rule - they consider the US Supreme Court's denial of a stay of Judge Crabtree's ruling enough to proceed. Some counties are accepting applications pending a ruling from our state Supreme Court, while others are refusing to do anything, including accepting applications, unless given a specific order from a higher court.

[ Posted: Monday Nov 17 2014, 12:07 pm | More Details...]

Good morning -

Marriage has broken out across Kansas! Well, in some places. In others, we're going to have to keep up the fight until our rights are fully recognized.

Here's what we know, county by county, about marriage license applications and issuance. If you have solid information about any counties not on this list, or new information about those that are, please email me at witt@eqks.org. As we get more information throughout the day and over the weekend, we'll post it on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/EqualityKansas

[ Posted: Friday Nov 14 2014, 9:44 am | More Details...]

Good morning -

Get ready for some bumps along the way to full marriage equality.

Unfortunately, Sam Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt are digging in their heels and vowing to continue the fight against full equality for LGBT couples. Schmidt is trying to make the case the Federal court ruling applies only to Douglas and Sedgwick counties, the homes of the two couples who are part of the ACLU lawsuit.

Here's what we can expect today and in the near-term:

[ Posted: Thursday Nov 13 2014, 7:33 am | More Details...]

The stay has been lifted by the United States Supreme Court. From the order:

"The application for stay presented to Justice Sotomayor and by her referred to the Court is denied. The order heretofore entered by Justice Sotomayor is vacated."

[ Posted: Wednesday Nov 12 2014, 4:34 pm | More Details...]

Not quite. We're waiting for the US Supreme Court to decide whether to keep Sotomayor's stay in place, or to lift the stay and let marriages proceed. As of this writing, Wednesday, Nov 12 at 6:40am, that has not yet happened.

Nothing may continue to happen. Something may happen. We don't know. We will put the word out the moment we learn something.
[ Posted: Wednesday Nov 12 2014, 6:44 am | More Details...]

And now this: US Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor has just ordered a new stay on the issuance of marriage licenses in Kansas, granting Attorney General Derek Schmidt his request.

The order is here: https://www.facebook.com/EqualityKansas/photos/a.219742414706143.67146.120348131312239/963745190305858/?l=dfcfe07c25

HOWEVER: She's giving the parties til 5pm Eastern (4pm Central) tomorrow to respond. Given that tomorrow is a legal holiday and courts across the state and nation will be closed, she's clearly in a hurry to resolve the Kansas question as quickly as possible. We could very well still have marriages on Wednesday.

[ Posted: Monday Nov 10 2014, 4:49 pm | More Details...]

Federal District Court judge Daniel Crabtree has just granted an injunction blocking enforcement of the Kansas ban on marriage equality.

HOWEVER: He has stayed his order until 5pm on November 11, pending appeal to the 10th Circuit by the Kansas Attorney General.

Short version: No marriages until November 12 at the earliest.

This is the victory we've been hoping for, but we still have another week, at least, to wait.

More news as it comes in.

[ Posted: Tuesday Nov 4 2014, 2:42 pm | More Details...]

Greetings all -

The hearing before US District Judge Daniel Crabtree concluded just moments ago.

At the conclusion of the proceeding, he stated that he would be issuing a written order "very soon." My understanding of initial reports is that the order may come in a matter of just a few days.

According to our Equality Kansas State Chair, Sandra Meade, the judge extensively questioned the Assistant Attorney General arguing the state's side. Sandra says the judge seemed "incredulous" at times, asking the AG's office how their arguments got "from here to there."

[ Posted: Friday Oct 31 2014, 4:07 pm | More Details...]

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