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Government

Wichita City Council passes nondiscrimination ordinance

The Wichita City Council voted to pass a non-discrimination ordinance at Tuesday's meeting.
Kylie Cameron
/
KMUW
The Wichita City Council voted to pass a non-discrimination ordinance at Tuesday's meeting.

The ordinance would ban discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on factors such as age, race, religion, gender identity and sexual orientation.

The Wichita City Council passed a nondiscrimination order at Tuesday’s meeting.

The ordinance would ban discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on factors such as age, race, religion, gender identity and sexual orientation. Complaints would be investigated, and the city could enforce a penalty of up to $2,000 for violations.

Council member Jeff Blubaugh was the only vote against the ordinance.

The Wichita City Council was originally scheduled to vote on the nondiscrimination ordinance in July, but members of the council voted to table the ordinance for 90 days. Those members – Blubaugh, Cindy Claycomb, Becky Tuttle, Jared Cerullo and Bryan Frye – agreed that they didn’t have enough time to review the ordinance.

The ordinance has since been reviewed by the city’s diversity, inclusion and civil rights board, district advisory boards, and at several other public meetings.

Original opponents of tabling the ordinance, such as Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson, said earlier this year that the ordinance would not come back stronger after being tabled for 90 days. Johnson said at Tuesday’s meeting, that that was not the case.

“A few months ago, I mentioned that I did not believe that this ordinance would be stronger, and I talked to specifically one of my colleagues about that after the meeting. And after I made my comment, I am happy to say, ‘I was wrong,’” Johnson said. “This ordinance was made stronger. There was a lot of additional language that was put in to it, some more clarity, and what we have before us is stronger than when I made those comments, and I wanted to publicly say it since I publicly said that back then.”

Some amendments were made to the ordinance by recommendation of the civil rights board, including extending the filing time to 180 days and adding a citizenship protection under housing and public accommodations.

Council member Cerullo suggested adding an additional amendment to the ordinance that would exempt religious organizations from the employment clause if that organization requires employees to “adhere to the tenets” of that organization as a condition of employment.

The amendment failed to pass.

“But everything I did was in hopes of trying to get to a point where we could have more consensus and more acceptability on this ordinance that I ultimately believe is needed for our city,” Cerullo said. “As has been stated by many others before me, for attracting and retaining young people to know we are a welcoming and inviting community.”

More than a dozen other cities in Kansas, mostly in the northeast part of the state, have similar ordinances.