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Addition to Roeland Park’s non-discrimination ordinance voted down 4-3

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ROELAND PARK, Kan. -- The battle over a proposed addition to the non-discrimination ordinance in Roeland Park came to a head Monday night with a vote by the city council. More than 150 people sat in stunned silence when the council members made their decision.

In a 4-3 vote, the Roeland Park City Council voted against the addition to the ordinance.

The vote came two-and-a-half hours after the passionate pleas of dozens of supporters. At issue, whether or not the council should approve an ordinance amendment to make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or military status.

The crowd was overwhelmingly in support of the ordinance and dozens spoke in favor of it. The issue consumed many residents and council members in Roeland Park, but it also touched several groups and organizations throughout the metro.

Those who fought for the passage can't believe it failed.

“Just a little bit in shock, not sure, very surprised that with all the support that it didn’t pass,” said supporter Anthony Thompson.

A man opposed said he didn’t see a reason to make a change.

“I hear people say equal rights. We have equal rights, why do we need special rights?” asked Doug Long.

The very small number of people who spoke against the ordinance quickly left the meeting without further comment, instead letting what they said during the public comment time speak for them.

While supporters were left stunned, they say they’re not defeated. There’s talk of helping support a county-wide measure, so it appears this debate is far from over.

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