Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Kansas: Senate considers banning discrimination against gay & lesbian citizens

By Diane Silver

Testimony today in the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee highlighted the need for protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation. The hearing involved Senate Bill 163, which would ban such discrimination.

The Lawrence Journal-World reported one person's story.
Jeff Potter of Horton said Tuesday that everything was going good at his job where he was working as a machinist in a tool and die shop.

He was being groomed to buy the business when the owner asked if he was homosexual, Potter told the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee.

Potter said he answered that he was.

He was then fired.

That left Potter without a job and health insurance.

Because state law doesn’t ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, he said he was also left without any legal recourse.

“Never before have I felt so alone, abandoned and vulnerable,” he said.

The committee did not take action on the bill, and the measure's future is uncertain. However, even a hearing is an important first step.

If you want to see thousands of Kansans receive simple fairness under the law, call your senator today, and note your support for SB 163. If you can, attend the Kansas Equality Coalition's lobby day at the Statehouse on Feb. 22.


Terry said...

Incredible that this kind of garbage is still "allowed" in the year 2007.

Excellent post.

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff. Being only a former Kansas resident at this point, a few questions...

Any idea what the chances are it actually gets to the floor for a vote? Is Sebelius likely to spend any political capital trying to move it through the legislative process? Among the R's Senate and House majorities what's the breakdown between, to use the short label, 'conservatives' and 'moderates'?

Diane Silver said...

Apologies for the delay in replying. I will be so glad when I shed my day job in a week!

I'm not certain about the bill's chances for a floor vote. It does have the best chance right now in the Senate because that body, at least, leans moderate.

The House is much more conservative and is led by Speaker Melvin Neufeld who is to the right of, well, just about everybody.

As to what Sebelius might do... That's anybody's guess at the moment. I know Sebelius from years ago when I was a reporter. I, honestly, think she is a supporter and has a good heart, but whether she would "spend any political capital" is uncertain.

Actually, my best guess is that the governor won't get involved unless it looks like the bill has a good chance of passing. I suspect the gov may remain silent given that the bill probably doesen't have a prayer of getting through the House, even if it does pass the Senate.

The only thing that will make it possible for Sebelius to help us and for bills like this to pass is our own political power. We need to work through organizations like the Kansas Equality Coalition and make certain every politician knows that a vote against us is a political liability. We can make that happen. It will just take work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great analysis and no apologies needed for any delay---the info is much appreciated. Good luck both on the political work and your 'post day job' future!