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End Discrimination Based on
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
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***BREAKING NEWS*** VICTORY AT THE STATE CAPITOL[ Posted Sunday May 20 2012, 6:18 pm by Thomas Witt ]
Moments ago, the Kansas Senate adjourned the 2011/2012 session without taking action on SB142.
Originally introduced in February of 2011 as HB2260, this issue is now dead. We have won.
This has been a "fight to the finish." The Catholic Conference is on record as saying passage of SB142/HB2260 was their "top legislative priority" for 2012. Their two full-time lobbyists have very visibly backed it. Focus on the Family's Kansas branch, the Kansas Family Policy Council, has lobbied extensively for passage.
Kansas Equality Coalition's solid record of stopping every anti-LGBT bill is now in its seventh year. Since our formation after the passage of the same-sex marriage ban in 2005, we have held the line against a hostile legislature that, every biennial session, has introduced one or more anti-LGBT pieces of legislation.
Until nearly the very end, we were unsure if we had the votes in the Senate to defeat this SB142. Ultimately, however, the results of our work became evident: We held the line, once again, against an agenda of homophobia and intolerance.
This year is the closest they've come to passing something. In past years, we have stopped their bills from being introduced. We've stopped their bills from being heard in committee. We've stopped their bills in committee during and after hearings. We've stopped their bills on the floor of the House. Even when we had supportive governors - Sebelius and Parkinson - we have never had to rely on a veto.
At the same time we've been fighting bad legislation, we've been backing positive issues, and have been directly engaged in fixing legislation that will hurt our community. In this session, we were successful in amending the new Voter I.D. law to make it possible for transgender Kansans to register and vote; the original language would have prevented both. Our leading work on the voter issue also resulted in SB17, the bill that would have required citizenship papers of all new voters by June 15, being killed by Senate leadership. Enhancements to the anti-bullying law passed the Senate 40 – 0, and although the bill stalled in the House, we have momentum for taking our concerns to the State Board of Education, and for our legislative agenda in 2013.
We have also been advancing our work at the local level. Last fall, the City of Lawrence added gender identity to its local non-discrimination ordinance. The City of Hutchinson is likely to add sexual orientation to their ordinance, and the City of Salina has already cast the first of two votes adding discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to theirs.
We have a KEC member running against Representative Jan Pauls. We have two more members set to announce their candidacies against right-wing incumbents within the next few weeks. We have public non-discrimination discussions moving forward in Pittsburg and Wichita. Ordinance campaigns in other cities are in the planning stages, and will be announced throughout the year.
In addition to helping our members who are running for public office, there are Republican primaries where we will need to help our allies. Sam Brownback has made it clear: Moderate Republicans who support good government, equality, and women’s rights will be targeted for removal. Without the support of the moderates, there will be no stopping the radical right as they remake our state into an unrecognizable haven for intolerance.
Once again, I must ask for your contributions. Kansas Equality Coalition is 100% member-supported. Without your investment, we lose our ability to fight the anti-LGBT agenda. We have come to far over the past seven years to now cede our state to bigotry. Help us stay in the fight. Contribute today at http://www.kansasequalitycoalition.org/donate/, or by mail at 6505 E Central, #219, Wichita, KS 67206.
Thomas Witt, Executive Director
Kansas Equality Coalition
Mobile 316-683-1706 | Office 316-260-4863