Topeka, Kan., City Councilman Chad Manspeaker has filed a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in the hometown of Westboro Baptist Church, according to a statement he issued on Monday.
The proposed legislation would expand Topeka Human Rights Commission to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
“It is time for us as Topekans to remove the cloud of hate and bigotry from our city, and to show the world we are an inclusive and loving community who protects all of its citizens,” Manspeaker wrote.
Manspeaker added that the small change to the commission would affect countless citizens who face discrimination in landlord-tenant relations and employment situations. Manspeaker also hoped the bill would encourage state-wide recognition and possibly earn a domestic-partner registry and same-sex partner benefits.
Kansas Equality Coalition Chairperson Stephanie Mott said Manspeaker’s proposal would be a step toward a full discrimination ban in Topeka. The only Kansas city with such a ban is the liberal town of Lawrence.
The councilman added that passing such legislation in the hometown of Westboro Baptist Church felt “kind of nice,” though it was not his primary intention. In the past, he has had to apologize to various states for Westboro funeral pickets.
Manspeaker said that his timing — just after the Supreme Court’s overruling of DOMA — is also coincidental.
“This is not a symbolic gesture," he said. "This speaks to a much larger direction on seeing where the city should go.”