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12/08/2010

'Ex-gayness' worms way into 'Little Apple' debate

by Jeremy Hooper

The city of Manhattan, Kansas, is on the verge of passing a basic non-discrimination ordinance that would protect LGBTs in the areas of housing and employment. So of course evangelicals in the area are working to make it seem like there's a two-sided conversation to be had about the proposal, one that pits "pro-family" Christians's self-described religious freedoms against the "special rights" of fairly obtaining and retaining a shelter and/or a job.

The stakes are obviously misstated. But if one digs a little deeper, one will see that the anti-LGBT side's real goal in the town often referred to as "The Little Apple" goes even beyond the current conversation about this one proposed ordinance. Like, for example, if a web surfer checks out the "recommended website links" on the official site created the organized opposition, he or she will see the following eight sites listed:

Screen Shot 2010-12-08 At 8.51.22 Am
[Awaken Manhattan -- Rec Links]

Why is this particular list notable? Well, because of the eight, a whopping four of the listed groups (PFOX, Exodus, Love Won Out, Ex-gay testimonies at DS/LV) are solely focused on "changing" gays. The others are tangentially associated with the scientifically-discredited faith expression: But four of them are 100% dedicated to it! As in, that is what these groups do, day in and day out: Attempt to "convert" those who they see as immoral and broken.

And again: This is the official site of the the organized opposition fighting the proposed ordinance. So in Manhattan, KS, it's not an overstatement to say that the current conversation is between those who simply want all tax-payers treated with basic decency vs. those who are attempting to de-gay the world one prayer session at a time. A strategy the "pro-values" camp can certainly use, if they want. But before city commissioners vote on Dec. 21, we're going to make certain that they each know the stakes. Feel free to do the same:

snead@ci.manhattan.ks.us
sherow@ci.manhattan.ks.us
pepperd@ci.manhattan.ks.us
morris-hardeman@ci.manhattan.ks.us
strawn@ci.manhattan.ks.us
City_Commission@ci.manhattan.ks.us
***

**UPDATE: The vote (which will be its second reading) has been postponed to January. On first reading, it passed 3-2: Snead, Morris-Harderman, and Sherow in the affirmative.

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