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Topeka Narrowly Outlaws Anti-Gay Bias

Wow. If you can see this happening in Kansas, you realize change is coming. Topeka’s city council has passed an ordinance protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in city hiring or employment. It doesn’t cover all bases, but this is still a significant thing to note in the heartland. (AP):

Many activists were disappointed, hoping the council would enact a broader ordinance against discrimination in housing, lending and private employment. Yet a few took some comfort in the small progress they did perceive.

Part of it was timing. The vote on Nov. 16 came two weeks after President Bush carried Kansas with 62 percent of the vote and during an election when 11 states approved constitutional bans on gay marriage.

“We’ve just come out of an election that was very bruising to the gay community,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “This small step by the Topeka City Council just shows that we are going to keep making progress.”

But opponents of any gay rights ordinance saw approval of only a narrow change — on a 5-4 council vote — as a significant victory. Still, some worry the new ordinance is a step toward governmental acceptance of homosexuality.

“I wonder if it’s just not the camel’s nose under the tent,” said Francis Slobodnik, manager of the Topeka-area office of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, an organization for Roman Catholics.

Topeka is actually one of many cities in states that went for Bush that have approved local gay rights ordinances. Others include Salt Lake City; Baton Rouge, La.; and Louisville, Ky.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding