Following a trend across the Johnson County suburbs, the Overland Park City Council passed an ordinance Monday night banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The move followed a hearing on the new non-discrimination measure in September that drew more than 50 people to a city community development committee meeting — and little opposition.
Council members adopted the ordinance on 10-1 vote on Monday.
Backers of the proposal took the Overland Park action as a landmark development.
“It’s fantastic,” said Brett Hoedl, chair of the Equality Kansas of Metro Kansas City. “We assumed it was going to go this way, but I get jittery every time we go into one of these meetings.”
He said the Overland Park ordinance could create pressure for adoption of a statewide law in Kansas banning discrimination against people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.
The new ordinance prevents residents and employees from being denied housing, employment or services from businesses because of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Council Member Dave White voted for the ordinance, but said he wanted more teeth in the legislation. The ordinance allows fines of up to $1,000.
“We’re saying, ‘Yes, it’s illegal but we can only fine them,’” White said. “We can’t do anything more than that and none of the money goes to the person who suffered the discrimination.”
Nearly two dozen states outlaw discrimination against someone because they are LGBTQ. Missouri and Kansas are not among them.
Overland Park is the largest city in Johnson County to pass a non-discrimination ordinance. It follows Kansas City, Kansas, Lawrence, Manhattan, Merriam, Roeland Park, Mission, and Prairie Village.