To:  Wynn Butler

 From:  FHHRP Board of Directors

 Re:  April 2015 Voters’ Guide

 1-     Would you support amending the City of Manhattan’s non-discrimination hiring policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity?                                              


The city hiring policy is the responsibility of the City Manager.  The manager is the only employee of the City Commission.  As such members of the Commission do not have the authority to dictate the policy that is under the control of the manager.  This question was brought to the Commission last year and discussed with the manager.  He ask for the opinion of the Commission.  He was provided general guidance that indicated that the commission expectation was that all city polices should be crafted to ensured equal treatment for everyone.  

 2-      Would you support amending the City of Manhattan’s Civil Rights Ordinance (Ch. 10, Sec. 10-2b) to include sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class as it relates to housing, employment, and public accommodation?                                   


 This one is not a yes or no question, as the amendment process has many legal issues.  The City needs to stay in line with State Law.  As you know I voted against the last ordinance, because of the enforcement policy.  The last ordinance created a quasi-judicial board that was a violation of our separation of powers and the rights of many of our citizens.  Maybe we should have a simple ordinance that states all human beings in the city of Manhattan will be treated equally.  Everyone should be a protected class.  So to make clear, I do not see a current need for the City to make a Civil Rights Ordinance a top priority.   You mention a needs assessment with a figure of 17% perceiving some sort of discrimination.  That is the heart of the issue, perceived as opposed to actual.  I still have not seen any hard factual data that indicate we have a major problem with discrimination in the City.  Should we get hard data that proves the problem, then we need to take corrective action, to include an ordinance. If that ordinance then solves the problem and does not conflict with the judicial system or bring up possible future law suits and liability to the city – then I would not only consider the ordinance but most likely support.  

 3-      Do you believe it should be illegal for individuals to discriminate in connection with public accommodation (dining, shopping, etc...), employment, and housing by citing personal beliefs such as religion?                                                                                               


Yes, in most cases, but not all.  There may be exceptions based upon the type of business or the belief expressed.  For example I teach at Barton Community College Fort Riley.  We would most likely not be inclined to hire a fundamentalist that expressed ISIS views and a religious belief that American Soldiers and family members should be killed.  An individual of that nature would be detrimental to our mission. 

 4-      Do you support Governor Brownback’s executive order to strip legal protection to state-employed LGBT citizens?                                                                        


Again this is not a yes or no question.  You have worded it so as to indicate that Brownback striped protection.  In reality he stated that he removed the executive order because the order itself was not legal, the former governor did not have the authority to create law through executive order.  The Kansas Legislature can take up the issue.  Whatever they determine would then apply to the City of Manhattan, putting us in line with state law.  If the legislature takes the executive order and makes it the law of the state, it solves the issue.   I would like the legislature to take up the issue, so that it is removed from the local venue.  Other laws to protect folks are still in place.  I am not for stripping anyone of legal protections.

  5-      The city commission, as a body, often supports or opposes proposed state legislation or advocates for changes in existing legislation.  Do you support HB 2323, recently amended and reintroduced in the Kansas House of Representatives, which states that sexual orientation and gender identity should become protected classes, such as religious preference or military service, both which are protected classes, in the state’s nondiscrimination policy?      


 As I stated earlier, we need a state wide position on this topic.  If the state could craft a Law that would put this issue to rest, I believe it would be welcomed by all of the folks in local government.   I am not going to send any letters to the House opposing the legislation, unless it includes some draconian enforcement mechanism like the previous Manhattan ordinance. .  I do not like the idea of protected classes as I think true equality would make everyone a protected class. I also think that the protected class concept just ends up causing a massive amount of legal action, for perceived slights as opposed to actual discrimination.  


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