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Update for Southeast Kansas Chapter and Summary of KEC Annual Meeting and Elections.

It is hard to believe we are already into the month of February. It will be an eventful month for Southeast Kansas as we are planning to go before the Pittsburg City Commissioners on February 28th to ask that sexual orientation and gender expression be included in the Human Relation`s anti-discrimination ordinances. We will be updating our members with more information soon regarding planning and strategy.

January was an eventful month for the Kansas Equality Coalition with the start of the 2012 Legislative session. KEC had their annual meeting and executive committee elections on January 28th here is a summary of that event:

Kansas Equality Coalition`s Annual Meeting

Kansas Equality Coalition’s recent annual meeting was hosted by the Lawrence Chapter and held at United Way of Douglas County in Lawrence. Tom Witt, Executive Director of the Kansas Equality Coalition gave a Lobbyist report for the 2012 Legislative session.

Proactive Agenda: Bullying: SB69/SB278; SB278 needs work it has about one and a half to two pages of good framework for it, which we would want. (http://www.kansasequalitycoalition.org/viewevent.php?e=4121&c=0 ) Sodomy Repeal: SB56/HB2321/SB308; Passed out of committee last year but was never acted on so it was sent back to committee. (http://www.kansasequalitycoalition.org/viewevent.php?e=4120&c=0 ) Kansas Act Against Discrimination: SB53; Will get a committee vote this year. Kansas Civil Rights Statute, Kansas Hate Crimes Statute, Comprehensive Sex Education, Hospital Visitation- letting it go for this session.

Defensive Agenda: Voter Suppression: We are wanting voter registration training
HB2260: tabled last year, so it can come up at any time.

Annual Business Meeting
Tom Witt, conducted the business meeting which included the election of officers. After the election Tom assumed his new position as Executive Director.
Elected to the Executive Committee were:
Chair: Stephanie Mott
Vice-Chair: Leanna Ehler
Secretary: Courtney Perry-Smith
Treasurer: Pat Munz

Board of Directors include two representatives from each of the eleven chapters appointed by their local chapter.

Lunch-time Discussion
The meeting concluded with a lunch time discussion by Tom Witt giving his outlook and strategy for the coming year. “In 2005, opponents of a proposal to ban same-sex marriage failed to block the measure because they weren’t organized. Kansas lawmakers passed a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage that year, and voters later approved the proposal. That experience taught us to work together on defeating anti-gay legislation. And as a result, conservative lawmakers have not succeeded in pushing any anti-gay bills through the Legislature since 2005. “That was the last time they beat us,” Witt said. “They have not gotten anything through on us since then.”. We must continue to be active and vigilant in our efforts to fight discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. This Organization and its members can have a tremendous impact on both the state and region. We must be visible and vocal . One way of having an impact is by getting sexual orientation and gender identity protections into local ordinances. The Lawrence chapter was successful in getting protections for gender identity added to their local ordinance. In November the Topeka chapter was able to successfully lobby USD 501 Board of Education to include sexual orientation and gender expression in the district`s anti-discrimination policies regarding students and staff. A domestic partnership registry was narrowly defeated. Hutchinson is working on getting sexual orientation and gender identity protections added to their local ordinances. Wichita chapter will going before the City soon. The Southeast Chapter will be going before the Pittsburg City Commissioners the end of February. We are conducting a state-wide survey on discrimination of LGBT Kansans. This will help us focus our efforts on areas of discrimination across the state.

Lambda Legal Workshops
Omar Narvaez, Lambda Legal Community Educator, South Central Region was our guest speaker. He concluded our annual meeting with three excellent Lambda Workshops: Tools for Life and Financial Planning (http://www.lambdalegal.org/sites/default/files/publications/downloads/ttp_take-the-power_0.pdf )
LGBTQ Youth: Out, Safe, Respected (http://www.lambdalegal.org/sites/default/files/publications/downloads/osr_out-safe-respected_0.pdf) , and Workplace Discrimination (http://www.lambdalegal.org/publications/out-at-work )

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