Some are calling it a step-forward for same-sex couples in the Capital City. They will soon be able to register as domestic partners in Topeka. Tuesday night, Topeka City Council approved an equality package. It would give more rights to the LGBT community.
This equality package is made up of two ordinances. One will create a domestic registry for same sex and heterosexual couples. The other would ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the city’s employment and hiring practices.
“I think it’s an effort to try and make it clear that Topeka is not a place that embraces bigotry,” said Mark Peterson, a professor of political science.
The two equality ordinances would give more rights to the LGBT community in Topeka. After the council voted to approve the ordinances Tuesday night, Councilman Chad Manspeaker, who championed the equality ordinances said it is a step in the right direction.
“The major effect I think it has on our community is the message that it sends to the rest of the world is that Topeka is an open and inclusive community,” said Manspeaker.
One of the ordinances would create a domestic registry for same sex and heterosexual partners who live together. But the registry would not give any legal rights to the couples on the list. It would just allow the city to recognize those partners.
“It’s a step down the road towards eliminating an impression that the community in some way or another has a native bias towards people who are socially in the minority,” said Peterson.
Because Kansas does not recognize same-sex partners. The City of Topeka cannot give couples on the registry any benefits.
“The registry itself is a gesture in the absence of a specific state statute that doesn’t have any particular legal enforce-ability the question of discrimination is covered by federal and state laws,” said Peterson.
The registry should go into effect at the end of June. Couples would have to pay a fee to be on the domestic partner registry. That fee is not decided yet. Manspeaker says those fees will cover the cost of the registry. He says it would be “tax neutral.”
Lawrence already has a similar registry for couples who live together. The Topeka ordinance was based off the Lawrence registry, with minor changes. Lawrence charges $75 to get on the list. To see what the Lawrence Domestic partnership registry looks like, click here.