Amendment to Roeland Park’s anti-discrimination ordinance passes in second vote

ROELAND PARK, Kan. — Two weeks after voting down an amendment to its anti-discrimination ordinance, the Roeland Park City Council did an about-face and passed the amendment in a re-vote Monday night.

Some called the passage stunning; others potentially precedent setting. The amendment to the anti-discrimination ordinance passed by a 5-4 margin, with Roeland Park Mayor Joel Marquardt casting a tie-breaking vote.

“I think it’s showing we are a progressive city, that we care about all of our residents,” said Bernard Shondell, a supporter of the ordinance.

Two weeks ago the amendment failed, 4-3, and that’s where the source of contention comes from. One council member was absent from the meeting.

Without an eighth and potentially tying vote, the mayor couldn’t break the tie and the measure failed. Since then, city hall has been bombarded with supporters asking for a do-over.

Meantime, those who were happy to see the measure fail called on the council to stop wasting so much time and energy on the issue. During a committee meeting, members agreed to send the re-vote to the council and Monday night they did just that.

The revote was deadlocked between council members 4-4, and Mayor Marquardt voted in favor of amending the ordinance to include sexual orientation, gender identity and military status in the city’s existing anti-discrimination ordinance.

“Set’s a bad precedent and doesn’t say much about the council that the citizens’ comments doesn’t matter to them,” said an opponent to the measure named Rudy, who did not give his last name.

Some, including council members, fear Monday night’s events could have long-lasting effects. There’s concern any time there’s a council member absent, it could lead to postponing votes or having similar re-votes in the future.