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Salina Mayor Joins Group Supporting Gay Marriage

Six months after Salina residents voted to repeal anti-discrimination protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation, the city's new mayor has joined a national group of mayors who support gay marriage.

Mayor Barb Shirley is the first Kansas mayor to join Mayors for Freedom to Marry, the Salina Journal reported. More than 350 other mayors across the country belong to the group.

"I have zero tolerance for any discrimination," Shirley said Wednesday. "As a mother, wife and community leader, I want people to know that no matter who you are, you are loved and deserving. I want all people to have the same civil rights. United we stand, divided we fall, so I, Barb Shirley, stand for gay rights."

Shirley, Vice Mayor Aaron Householter and Commissioner Kaye Crawford helped pass Salina's protections from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on gender identity and sexual orientation last year.

After Salina residents and the Wichita-based Kansas Family Policy Council circulated petitions to have the issue placed on the November ballot, the protections were rescinded by 54.2 percent to 45.8 percent.

Gary Martens of Salina, chairman of the north-central chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition, said the group appreciates Shirley's support.

Robert Noland, director of the Kansas Family Policy Council, said he was surprised by Shirley's decision after Salinans voted to repeal the protections.