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Wichita delays vote on anti-discrimination ordinance

July 14, 2021 GMT

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita City Council put off a decision Tuesday on a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance, saying it needed more community input even after two marathon public listening sessions.

The Wichita Eagle reports that the proposal bans discrimination in employment, housing and businesses on the basis of “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.”

“This has been very divisive in our community. I think everyone would agree,” said council member Becky Tuttle, who made the motion to table it for 90 days.

About 40 people weighed in during the three-hour meeting. Some described how discrimination has impacted their lives and others said that the ordinance would infringe on their religious liberties. The discussion focused mainly on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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“Ninety days or 90 years, there are going to be people who are concerned with this because it is offering protection to groups who are discriminated against,” said Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson, who opposed tabling the proposal.

Several speakers cited their Christian faith in opposing the ordinance, saying religious exemptions in the proposal were inadequate.

The council tentatively agreed to take it up again on Oct. 12.