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Topeka adds sexual orientation, gender identity bias to Commission’s role

Thursday, September 19, 2013
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TOPEKA, Kan. — The Topeka City Council has voted to expand the work of the city’s Human Relations Commission to include education about discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Topeka, Kan.

Topeka, Kan.

The ordinance passed Tuesday by the council does not include any specific protections for people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

It says only that the commission will include those groups in its efforts to educate people about discrimination.

Council member Chad Manspeaker, who proposed the ordinance, told LGBTQ Nation that expanding the Commission’s charter is a necessary first step in efforts to establishing legal protections for the Tokepa’s LGBT residents.

“It’s baby steps towards ensuring that gay and lesbian and transgender folk are not discriminated against,” he said. “We want people to live freely in our community and we can’t do that without these protections.”

Manspeaker said Topeka “has a national reputation for being the home of groups who spread a message of hate,” referring to the Westboro Baptist Church, home of anti-gay extremists and the “Gods Hate Fags” fundamentalist movement, which is located in his district.

The council approved the ordinance after hearing more than an hour of testimony. A majority of the speakers were in favor of the ordinance.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports opponents indicated after they vote they would try to overturn the decision through a petition.

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