Wichita City Council passes first reading of non-discrimination ordinance amidst a heated meeting

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita City Council voted 4-3 on Tuesday on the first reading of a non-discrimination ordinance with enforcement provisions.

The provisions were drafted with the help of Equality Kansas.

Several people spoke at the meeting, including Table of Hope Pastor Jackie Carter. She said she’s seen her fair share of hate.

“We’ve had over 100 windows broken out,” said Carter. “Nearly every week somebody is writing something on our building or tearing apart our swing set, just because I identify differently than a white cisgender woman.”

Carter said this ordinance is long overdue.

“This is the first step to saying to every single person, you matter,” said Carter. “If we could just get that piece down, that would bring peace to every single person I know.”

The second reading of the ordinance will go before the city council on July 6, 2021, and be placed under ‘unfinished business’ on the agenda. At that time, changes still could be made to the ordinance.

During the meeting, the discussion became heated between several council members and the mayor on the ordinance procedures and handling. The mayor said it is long overdue and if it is not passed now, it may never get passed.

“We can settle your concerns, but people want to kill this based on process, I’m sorry I’m not better at controlling my emotions, I’m not very good at standing on the sideline in the face of injustice,” said Mayor Whipple.

Many expressed concern over enforcement and how rushed it was.

“Wichita 100% deserves a non-discrimination policy ordinance in place with tough teeth, enforcement, but it needs to be vetted through the public, no matter what the policy is that we are passing,” said council member Jared Cerullo. “What happened today was embarrassing rushed and unprepared policy, no matter what that’s terrible policy.”

The council members that voted in favor of moving ahead were Mayor Brandon Whipple, Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson and council members Becky Tuttle and Cindy Claycomb

Council members that voted against were Jared Cerullo, Bryan Frye, and Jeff Blubaugh.

Equality Kansas tweeted about the passage of ordinance.

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