Wichita City Council passes non-discrimination ordinance by a vote of 6-1

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita City Council voted to pass a non-discrimination ordinance on Tuesday.

The ordinance prohibits discrimination against persons because of their age, color, disability, familial status, gender identity, genetic information, national origin or ancestry, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status or any other factor protected by law in the areas of:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Public Accommodations

Council members Jared Cerullo, Becky Tuttle, Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson, Mayor Brandon Whipple, Bryan Frye, and Cindy Claycomb voted in favor of the ordinance. Jeff Blubaugh voted against it.

The city council heard from both supporters and those against the ordinance for about three hours.

“If adopted will cause disharmony in the community, cost Wichita an unnecessary burden on resources, staff, and the legal system, and weaponize Wichita to support the LGBTQ+,” said Jame Kilpatrick, Wichita resident.

“We are convinced that the best collection of talent will be made up of a diverse team of people. People with multiple viewpoints experiences or backgrounds, diverse and inclusive teams lead to higher quality work, innovation, and a greater team satisfaction,” said Misty High, Cargill Protein president.

After debate, the council voted on several amendments by city staff, city council members, and the diversity board.

Before the vote, several council members expressed support for the ordinance.

“As a council member, it is my sincere belief what is best for Wichita, to be the most successful that we can be. We need to be inviting, that means desirable, opening, welcoming and inclusive,” said Frye.

“This non-discrimination ordinance is the right thing for our community, and now, I think we have done it the right way. Is it perfect? Probably not, but I don’t think ordinances are ever perfect,” said Claycomb.

“Discrimination happens in our community each and every day. I believe this ordinance is needed. I will be supportive of this ordinance, just as in dozens maybe even hundreds of other cities across this great country,” said Cerullo. “We will go on. We will work together. We will fix maybe what needs to be fixed. We will be an open and inviting community for our young people.”

Blubaugh was the only council member to vote against.

“What I don’t like us seeing is the City of Wichita being the policy police on this. You can’t legislate bad ethics and bad behavior and discrimination, and I hate to see it, but I don’t want the City of Wichita to be the police for that,” he said.

Three months ago, the council tabled the ordinance following comments and debate for 90 days for additional consideration and information gathering to ensure the Diversity, Inclusion and Civil Rights Advisory Board (DICRAB) had the opportunity to review the proposed ordinance, receive public comment, and make recommendations.

The DICRAB then held several public meetings and allowed comments between July 13 and Sept. 21.

WATCH THE FULL MEETING

The ordinance would make the City of Wichita an enforcing agency with the authority to
investigate complaints of discrimination alleged to have occurred within the city limits of Wichita and to
issue civil penalties of up to $2,000 for violations if complaints could not otherwise be resolved.

Aggrieved individuals would be able to file a complaint with the City Clerk within 180 days of an alleged
violation of the ordinance. If the parties do not desire mediation or if mediation does not resolve the
complaint, the complaint would be investigated and all evidence forwarded to the Law Department for
determination of probable cause and conciliation efforts.

The ordinance wouldn’t take effect until January 1, 2022.

RELATED CITY COUNCIL DOCUMENTS

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