Manhattan city leaders move on LGBT ordinance

MANHATTAN (KSNT) – On Tuesday night, and the Manhattan city commission took another step toward enacting an ordinance that would protect the LGBT community.

For a little less than two hours, the city commissioners debated details of the ordinance and heard public comment.

There was significantly less turn out on Tuesday than there was during the first public work session about this ordinance in April.

The ordinance, which was spurred on by a letter sent late last year from religious leaders in the city, defines what is discrimination against an LGBT community member and puts in place a reporting system for residents who feel like they have been discriminated against.

“We are not trying to push people or force people to change their views we just want to make sure everybody in Manhattan feels welcome and part of the community,” said Manhattan Mayor Karen McCulloh

Part of the purpose of the second work session was for commissioners and community members to react to the reporting system that was suggested.

One of the main issues during public comment on Tuesday was the amount a person could be fined if a mediator determines there was discrimination.

As it stands, the ordinance would give a mediator the ability to find someone up to $500 but several people stood up and said it should be a minimum of $500 instead.

The concept of the ordnance was excepted by majority of the city commission and members of the public who came up to speak.

“Everyone thought that when the Supreme Court decided gay marriage was legal in all 50 states that the fight for equal representation and equal rights was over and done with but that’s not really the case,” said Lawrence resident Harrison Baker. Baker said he heard about the public comment and wanted to see what Manhattan was doing for LGBT community members.

During his public comment, Baker said he was “heartened” by the actions of the commission and commended them for working on these issues.

However, to city commissioners were more vocal about their concerns. Mike Dodson’s concerns coincide a national debate over which bathroom transgender individuals can use. Dobson is concerned about which locker rooms these individuals will use in the city.

Nothing was finalized on Tuesday. The commission will meet again before officially enacting this ordinance.


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