ROELAND PARK, Kan. – Roeland Park's proposed non-discrimination ordinance has residents drawing strong opinions on both sides. Some say it's great that city council wants to put protections in place for the LGBT community, while others say that protection could cost the city money.
Roeland Park City Council is expecting a huge crowd to show up at a 7 p.m. meeting where the council will vote on providing local protection for the orientation, gender identity and veterans.
“These new protections will ensure that everyone will have a good quality of life,” said council member Megan England, who co-authored the proposed ordinance.
Under Kansas state law, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, disability, national origin and ancestry in employment, housing and public accommodation. England co-authored a non-discrimination ordinance to add sexual orientation, gender identity and military status as a protected class in Roeland Park.
“There are people in our community, in the LGBT community, who live here and pay taxes but they feel they are not being treated equally,” she said.
Scott Gregory, a CPA and former Roeland Park City Council member says he agrees with the spirit of the ordinance, but fears it will cost the city investigating claims.
“To do this is one way of making a statement, a statement that is going to cost the city money. It's already cost something short of $10,000 in legal fees and there are those who say one claim a year could cost the city $15-$20 thousand a year,” Gregory said.
That’s money Gregory says the city doesn't have. England says the legal counsel disputes that, saying claims will be investigated and most are resolved in mediation and never end up in court.
England says if they do, the losing party pays the legal fees. She says it's the city's responsibility to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for its residents and visitors, and she believes the ordinance will provide that.