Manhattan unanimously adds LGBTQ to anti-discrimination ordinance

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Manhattan, Kan. (WIBW) The Manhattan City Commission unanimously approved an ordinance adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s anti-discrimination policy.

The city held its second reading for a proposed amendment to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance Tuesday night.

According to Kevin Stilley, Flint Hills Human Rights Project treasurer, a similar ordinance was passed in 2011 but was immediately rescinded.

“A group called Awaken Manhattan got organized, put two new people on the city commission in April and their first order of business was to rescind that ordinance before it went into effect,” said Stilley.

Since then, Katie Jordan of the Flint Hills Human Rights Project spearheaded efforts to get it back after the passage Supreme Court case where same sex marriage was legalized.

“Our city wanted to put sexual orientation into our hiring policy and when they did, we were thinking, 'that only helps the city employees. What about the private citizens of Manhattan?',” said Jordan.

Though the topic sparked some initial debate, supporters like Stilley and Jordan say the Tuesday night's decision was for inclusion.

“How proud of our city commission. For it to get a 5-0, what a great compromise we found and it’s actually there so that if anyone is actually discriminated against there’s recourse,” said Jordan.

Members of the LGBTQ community including family and friends whom attended the passing of the ordinance at City Hall later met at Auntie Mae’s in Aggieville to celebrate their victory.

“I’ve lived openly as a gay man for 40 years and when I first came out thinking of something like this happening in Manhattan Kansas, was beyond my imagination. So this is huge. I feel fantastic,” said Stilley

The ordinance will go into effect November 1, 2016.