Wichita City Council rejected an amendment to allow religious exemptions and finally passed a nondiscrimination bill that would protect LGBTQ persons in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
Christian activists dragged the council through arguments as to why churches, and business owners with strong religious beliefs against homosexuality and transgender identity, should be allowed to legally discriminate against LGBTQ persons.
Had the amendment been included, it would have allowed Kansas churches and businesses to refuse to hire, or allow to fire LGBTQ persons freely, using religion as an excuse.
The so-called “clean” nondiscrimination bill was passed with a 6-1 vote. council member Jeff Blubaugh was the only vote against it.
Ironically, Jared Cerullo, the first openly gay council member in Wichita history, proposed the religious exemption to help find a consensus that all residents could be happy with.
Council members Cindy Claycomb and Becky Tuttle fought for a “clean” bill with no exemptions. They won.
While LGBTQ persons are highlighted as major beneficiaries of the ordinance, the law preserves civil rights protections for persons no matter their age, color, disability, race and ethnicity, religion, sex, among others already protected by federal law.