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Our Mission is to
End Discrimination Based on
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
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Welcome, Visitors!

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stand, however, as right-wing activists successfully elected new city councilmen the following April, who immediately repealed the new ordinance.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long-standing desire to restore that city's civil rights ordinance, which, in 1977, included “sexual preference” until repealed in 1978 as part of Anita Bryant's anti-gay crusade. In 1999, the Wichita City Council quietly repealed the rest of the ordinance.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

The march to full marriage equality progresses.

Here's a quick timeline of last week's fast-moving events. Be sure to read through to the end - there's some great info there!

MONDAY:

- The US Supreme Court let stand summer rulings in Utah and Oklahoma that invalidated those states' bans on same sex marriage.

- The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted their stay on their June and July rulings.

- Since Kansas is in the 10th Circuit, their rulings apply here. With that, Equality Kansas members went to their selected county courthouses to apply for marriage licenses. All were denied the right to apply.

[ Posted: Wednesday Oct 15 2014, 9:53 am | More Details...]

Just a short while ago, in a three-page order, Kansas Chief Justice Lawton Nuss ordered the Johnson County District Court to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

He has set a hearing on the matter for November 6.

In his order, Justice Nuss directed the Attorney General to be prepared to explain why the 10th Circuit rulings in Kitchen v Herbert and Bishop v Smith don't apply to Kansas.

This is precisely the scenario Governor Brownback and AG Schmidt have been doing everything possible to avoid - if you look at their public statements all this week, you see no mention of their oaths to the United States constitution and their obligation to uphold the rulings of Federal courts. They talk only of the Kansas constitution.

[ Posted: Friday Oct 10 2014, 7:04 pm | More Details...]

The ACLU of Kansas today filed a lawsuit against district court clerks in Douglas and Sedgwick counties for their refusal to issue marriage applications to two same-sex couples, despite the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals lifting its stay on marriage for same-sex couples on Monday. Kansas officials have since attempted to block the issuance of marriage licenses after the first and only couple successfully obtained a marriage license and wed in Johnson County today. The ACLU of Kansas will file a motion for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order over the weekend and will seek to have it heard promptly next week.

[ Posted: Friday Oct 10 2014, 5:22 pm | More Details...]

This morning, October 10, 2014, Kelli and Angela were married in a brief ceremony at the Johnson County courthouse in Olathe, Kansas. The ceremony was officiated by their pastor, after which they both returned to work.

Kelli and Angela are grateful for the outpouring of congratulations, well-wishes, and support from around our great state and nation. They are celebrating their marriage in a typically Kansan way: Privately, with family and close friends. They ask that we respect their privacy, and they look forward to the day when same-sex marriages are no more newsworthy than any other marriage.

[ Posted: Friday Oct 10 2014, 3:55 pm | More Details...]

If you or someone you know has applied for a marriage license IN JOHNSON COUNTY as a same-sex couple, please email the Equality Kansas office immediately.

We need to talk to you about the legal ramifications of the Attorney General's motion to block your marriage from taking place.

Email witt@eqks.org. Please include the date you applied, and your contact info.

Thanks,

Tom
[ Posted: Friday Oct 10 2014, 1:40 pm | More Details...]

In reaction to the breaking news that the Kansas Attorney General is seeking to halt same-sex marriages:

"Sam Brownback and Attorney General Schmidt need to stop playing election year politics with people's lives and allow these legal marriages to proceed. The Federal courts have ruled, and we all know how this will end. Delaying the inevitable is a waste of time and taxpayer money, and a gross injustice to LGBT Kansans and their families."

-- Thomas Witt, Executive Director, Equality Kansas
[ Posted: Friday Oct 10 2014, 12:28 pm | More Details...]

Dear Equality Kansas members, allies and supporters -

Equality Kansas, when making endorsements, considers a number of factors in weighing our decisions. In order of importance, we consider:

1. Voting record as a public official;
2. Membership in Equality Kansas, or whether a candidate is a member of the LGBT population;
3. Responses to policy questionnaires sent to all candidates immediately after the June filing deadline;
4. Public statements regarding LGBT equality issues.

[ Posted: Friday Oct 10 2014, 9:59 am | More Details...]

Hi all -

Many questions are now coming in about what to do if you entered into a legal marriage outside of Kansas (such as Iowa, California, or even Canada).

IMPORTANT: If you have legally married in another jurisdiction, DO NOT apply for a Kansas marriage license. You are already married. Applying to marry in Kansas if you have legally married in another jurisdiction is unlawful.

HOWEVER: If you entered into a civil union or domestic partnership, you are not considered married. I believe some state allowed unions/partnerships to be converted to marriages, and if you have taken that step, you are married. Otherwise, you're not, and you should apply for a Kansas marriage license.

[ Posted: Thursday Oct 9 2014, 4:31 pm | More Details...]

With those words, Johnson County's chief judge, the Hon. Kevin Moriarty, directed his clerks and 10th District judges to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Kansas 10th Judidical District should not be confused with the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The first is a state court that handles basic Kansas criminal cases, local lawsuits, probate, and so on. The second is the Federal court of appeals, which is the last stop on the road to the US Supreme Court.

[ Posted: Thursday Oct 9 2014, 7:06 am | More Details...]

The Hon. Kevin Moriarty, the chief judge of the 10th Judicial District in Johnson County, has just issued an order giving the go-ahead for same sex marriage. From the introduction:

In the interest of justice and to avoid the uncertainty that has arisen in light of recent federal court rulings about the constitutionality of state constitutional and/or statutory prohibitions against marriage by same-sex individuals, the clerk of the district court is hereby directed to issue marriage licenses to all individuals, including same-sex individuals, provided they are otherwise qualified to marry.

[ Posted: Wednesday Oct 8 2014, 3:16 pm | More Details...]

Hi all -

Here's where we are as of this morning - Yesterday afternoon, the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration (they run the state courts) issued guidance to court clerks and judges.

The short version: Be careful, you might get sued.

The longer version:

The guidance essentially says to court clerks "don't argue" with people coming in for marriage license applications. Take the application, and let the chief judge of each district determine eligibility. The OJA also cautioned judges they may get sued no matter what they do with these applications. From the OJA's email:

[ Posted: Wednesday Oct 8 2014, 11:53 am | More Details...]

Greetings all -

It's been a busy 28 hours.

Yesterday, Equality Kansas members around the state went to their local county courthouses to apply for marriage licenses. All were denied.

This morning, in what I believe is the first, Julia and Gina went to the Reno County Courthouse in Hutchinson. They were allowed to apply for a marriage license.

The staff of the district court congratulated them, and told them to come back on the 10th, at the end of the three-day waiting period.

[ Posted: Tuesday Oct 7 2014, 12:36 pm | More Details...]

This just in: The United States Supreme Court has just denied certiorari (declined to hear) all current Circuit Court appeals on marriage bans.

This includes the 10th Circuit case in Oklahoma and Utah.

The language of the 10th Circuit case, ruling in favor of marriage equality, states that should the Supreme Court refuse to hear the appeal, the stay on same-sex marriages would be automatically lifted.

Kansas is in the 10th Circuit. This ruling may very well include us. We are talking to our attorneys at this very moment looking for guidance.

[ Posted: Monday Oct 6 2014, 9:09 am | More Details...]


When: November 17th, 2014, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Where: UUFT (4775 sw 21st street)

[ Posted: Wednesday Aug 13 2014, 3:29 pm | More Details...]

[ Calendar Of Events | Previous News ]


 
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