Salina revisits discrimination protections

Protection from discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity will be back on the Salina City Commission agenda in four weeks, thanks to a 4-1 vote at Monday’s meeting.

Commissioner Karl Ryan cast the lone dissenting vote.

Commissioner Jon Blanchard made the motion to consider making sexual discrimination and gender identity a protected class in the city’s personnel policy, joining other classes such as age and race.

This would apply to the city as an employer, not to the community as a whole, said City Manager Jason Gage.

Commissioner Melissa Hodges had asked Gage as last week’s meeting to research what it would take to add the protections to the personnel manual.

The city had a similar policy in 2013 for about six months — and an ordinance applying to the city as a whole. However, a petition was presented asking that the ordinance be put to a public vote. The public voted down the protections 55 percent to 45 percent, Blanchard said.

At that time, commissioners also voted to delete the protections from city policy.

A difficult talk

Gage said that amending the personnel manual would be relatively simple. What would take more time, he said, is having conversations with all of the city’s employees, asking their opinions.

“We owe it to our employees to give them the attention they need,” he said.

(Read more: News – Salina Journal)