Kansas discrimination laws ridiculous, in need of stronger review


It’s a normal day in good ol’ Kansas, and Joe is sitting in his desk going over some boring figures when he’s notified that his boss wishes to speak with him. Upon arriving at his boss’s cubicle, he’s gestured to sit.

“Joe, I don’t know how to put this,” the boss grunts while settling into his chair, examining the increasingly exacerbated expression on Joe’s face. “The thing is, I feel you’re just a bit too fabulous for our comfort here at the firm. I feel it’s time for you to leave. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

Although this scenario seems completely implausible and something that would never happen in our beautiful state, there are no laws in most jurisdictions preventing people from being fired for being openly gay.

Kansas is one of 29 states that lack an overt law prohibiting total discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identification. Because of the lack of protection in this area, in most parts of these states — with varying degrees of loopholes and exceptions — employment discrimination lawsuits filed by individuals who are openly or seemingly homosexual won’t have a chance when in court.

In Manhattan, there was a brief glimpse of hope in early 2011 when Mayor Bruce Snead, Commissioner Jim Sherow, and Commissioner Jayme Morris-Hardeman voted in favor of Ordinance No. 6880 in the 3-2 decision to protect individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It wasn’t before long that newly appointed Manhattan City commissioners shifted the power balance, triggering a crusade to repeal it.

Religious zealots, feeling that Christianity’s white slate of moral purity had been soiled by the “homosexual agenda,” jumped into action armed with crucifixes and stakes.

As their momentum increased, anti-gay vanguards like Dr. Paul A. Ibbetson, who hosts the radio show “The Conscience of Kansas,” valiantly fought the gay conspiracy, stating that “the battle that will be fought and the ending outcome may very well reflect the nation’s will to hold fast to… biblical and constitutional values.” Finally, after enough Bibles were tossed and the rest of the U.S. was convinced that every negative Kansan stereotype in existence was a reality, the ordinance was repealed on May 17, 2011.

Brandon Haddock, coordinator for the LBGT Resource Center, has commented on the issue.

“Over time, people will realize that all of the fear mongering about sexuality and gender identity is completely unbiased,” Haddock said. “Iowa didn’t burst into flames after passing gender equality or after passing protections for sexuality and gender identity. There aren’t any negatives about expanding basic humans rights to everyone.”

However, it is worth noting that Kansas is not the most puritanical in this regard: In Kansas, as long as you’re in the public sector, you cannot be discriminated against due to sexual orientation. Lawrence prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in the workplace from employers within their jurisdiction. Except for in athletic prowess, Manhattan would not be harmed by following our neighbor’s example.

David Mejia-Zaccaro is a junior in marketing. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com