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Being an active member of the Kansas Equality Coalition is important now more than ever & what 2012 means for the Southeast Kansas Chapter of KEC

ONE of the reasons I fight for EQUALITY is for my sister Linda. In 1979 my sister was a victim of a hate crime. She was abducted outside a gay bar in Wichita. She was then taken to a remote area; assaulted, robbed, stripped naked, shot, stabbed, and then ran over by a car three times; the last time one of her legs caught in the undercarriage and she was dragged about thirty feet. Her assaulters then drove off, leaving Linda to die in an open field, nude, with six stab wounds, one gunshot wound, and a broken pelvis. She was discovered by a farmer the following morning; she was rushed to the hospital; and remarkably, she survived. The only thing that saved her from bleeding out was the freezing temperature. This was classified as a “homosexual” crime in the newspapers. The perpetrators were caught and prosecuted but the justice system made my sister out as complicit in the crime because of her homosexual lifestyle that put her “at risk”. Her two attackers served less than three years for their crime.

This event scarred her both emotionally as well as physically To this day she literally has tire tracks on her body; a constant reminder that hate does exist in this world.

Even though this happened thirty-two years ago we are STILL subject to violence, discrimination and hate. If you don’t think so you haven’t been watching any of the Republican debates or reading the news. Just this past Christmas eve a transgender woman was murdered in Kansas City. I don’t want to live in a world where it is okay to murder, bully, harass, or deny equal rights to someone simply because they are different. I believe that we deserve full and equal protection under the law.

The 2012 Kansas legislative session is under way and the Kansas Equality Coalition will be there fighting to get Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity added to key legislation: stricter anti-bullying in schools, a repeal or at least a delay of the Voter Id laws that disenfranchise voters, and they will be working to get the Hate Crimes law to add gender identity and to make it not only symbolic but a law that has consequences.

The Kansas Equality Coalition is working on a discrimination survey to be launched statewide. This will help determine where we need to focus our efforts in bringing about an end to discrimination and give LGBT Kansans a voice in saying what are the important issues we should be working on.

The Kansas Equality Coalition will again host an Equality Day at the Topeka Capital to give our members a chance to meet face to face with their legislators.

Southeast Kansas chapter is preparing to bring the fight for Equality to Southeast Kansas. We are working on getting sexual orientation and gender identity added to several ( I would love for it to be ALL) city ordinances throughout our area.

We are preparing to fight for stricter anti-bullying protections including protections for sexual orientation and gender identity at USD 250 and fight for their right to have a GSA at the local High School.

Southeast Kansas chapter will be attending the Equality Lobbying Day in Topeka (Date is TBD). We are working to provide transportation for all those who would like to attend.

We will be attending local events and putting on Community forums.

We will be working hard to increase our membership and our voice here in southeast Kansas.

I would love for ALL of you to be an active part of this organization. For updates on what’s happening in our chapter check out the Kansas Equality Coalition website at: http://www.kansasequalitycoalition.org and LIKE our facebook page at: http://on.fb.me/wQLnc7

I welcome and value everyone’s thoughts and opinions as we grow our chapter.
2012 is going to be an awesome year for Equality in Kansas!

Leanna Ehler
Kansas Equality Coalition-Southeast Kansas Chapter Chair
Le_Ehler@ymail.com

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