The city council in the hometown of the notoriously anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church is set to debate an ordinance to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Topeka City Council in Kansas plans to hear the proposal this week and formally consider the measure on September 17, according to The University Daily Kansan.
The ordinance to expand the Topeka Human Rights Commission to include protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals was proposed by Topeka City Councilman Chad Manspeaker (D) in June. The commission approved the ordinance with a 7-0 vote the same month, but it cannot be enacted until it is approved by the city council.
“We want people to live freely in our community,” Manspeaker told The University Daily Kansan. “And we can’t do that without these protections.”
Kansas currently prohibits public agencies from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, LGBT individuals are not protected from discrimination in private businesses, housing or public accommodations. Only one city in Kansas has an ordinance to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Many people know of Topeka as the home of the Westboro Baptists rather than as the capitol of Kansas. The Westboro Baptist Church has gained international infamy for picketing the funerals of dead soldiers with offensive signs such as "God hates f*gs."
“Do I run legislation like this because Westboro lives in Topeka? No. But it sure does feel kind of nice," Manspeaker told The Huffington Post in June.
[Westboro Baptist protester via David Shankbone, Creative Commons-licensed]