Tuesday night I went to a watch party for a local ordinance protecting the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual people to not be fired or lose housing because of their sexual orientation. I was in favor of the ordinance because I don't see why you wouldn't want people to have basic civil rights. It did not pass. The "no" vote won 57%.
Obviously, on the same night that the first openly gay woman was elected to congress, and multiple states approved gay marriage, Hutchinson is on the wrong side of history. I was so hoping this would pass because it would signal an openness in this community.
Greg took this photo of me saying goodbye to Jon, who spearheaded the local "Vote Yes for Fairness" campaign. We were pretty sure it wasn't going to pass at that point, but we didn't know for certain. Jon is someone I really admire.
What I didn't realize at the time, is that the local newspaper photographer also captured the moment and it went out on the AP, although it didn't run in our local paper. A friend sent me this link to a story in the Wichita Eagle. It could have been in other papers, too.
Before the election, I wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper, but got it in too late. I've posted it below so you can read it if you wish.
A war has been raging in Hutchinson the last few months. Like everyone else, I have taken a side. Rarely do I feel my position is the only correct one, but in this case, we must support civil rights for everyone, or they’re not certain for anyone.
It was 50 years ago that the US was involved with another civil rights movement. I don't know what I would have done then, but I hope it's what I'm doing now - standing on the side of fairness for everyone.
I’ve been thanked for supporting this issue when it doesn’t personally affect me. But I contend it affects all of us. To be a growing, thriving community we must extend basic rights to every citizen.
Hutchinson, do you want to be mired in the past with the Bull Conner mentality, or are you ready to create a better world? You have a chance to be extraordinary. Please take it. Vote “yes” for fairness today.
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