Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gays still don't deserve equal rights under the law, Roeland Park City Council decides

Posted By on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 1:14 PM

The status quo prevails in Roeland Park.
  • The status quo prevails in Roeland Park.
Sometimes, all you can do is rely on your faith in God to guide you. That's what Roeland Park City Council member Marek Gliniecki did last night, when the long-debated ordinance to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the group of classes protected by the Kansas municipality's anti-discrimination law at last saw a council vote. From the Prairie Village Post:

In an emotional statement, Gliniecki quoted into the record excerpts from a church document related to legislative proposals on the “non-discrimination of homosexual persons.” That document read in part that “the intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.”

So he voted to respect the intrinsic dignity of gay persons, right?

WRONG.

It turns out that Gliniecki's Catholic sky god actually wanted him to oppose the ordinance that would respect the intrinsic dignity of gay persons. There were other council members who felt the same way: Mel Croston, Michael Rhodes and Sheri McNeil. Another council member, Becky Fast, did not turn up to cast a vote.

In Roeland Park, there are eight council members. Mayor Joel Marquardt votes in the event of a tie. But since Fast didn't show, the four votes were all that the opposition needed to beat the ordinance-supporting votes, cast by Jennifer Gunby, Megan England and Teresa Kelly. Ordinance defeated, 4-3.

At its core, the ordinance was asking a simple question of the council: Do you believe that the LGBT community deserves the same rights as everybody else in this country? If so, vote for the ordinance. If not, vote against it.

But it turned out to not be so simple. The council spent four months giving air time to religious people concerned that its passage would violate their First Amendment rights, despite the fact that the voted-on version included an exemption for religious organizations. In the end, the vague concerns of religious bigots were deemed more important than protecting an entire class of people from discrimination.

Ironically, the vote fell on the same day that President Obama signed into law an executive order protecting all federal employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — an order that does not include exemptions for religious entities.

"We're on the right side of history," Obama said.


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