Kansas City, Missouri, Is A Model For Progressive LGBT Policy, Group Says

Nov 14, 2014

Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., each received vastly different marks on LGBT-friendliness in a recent report.
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The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization, calls Kansas City, Mo., “a beacon of hope” for the LGBT community.

Kansas City, Kan., however, represents a city “at the opposite end of the spectrum” in terms of LGBT rights, according to a new report.

“The simple reality is LGBT people in Kansas City are living in two completely different worlds divided by a line,” the Washington-based group says in a statement.

The campaign released the findings in the organization’s third annual Municipal Equality Index, which rates the LGBT policies and practices in 353 cities nationwide. Ranking is based on a long list of criteria, including non-discrimination laws, employment policies, transgender-inclusive insurance and relationship recognition.

KCUR's Beyond Our Borders project will examine the Missouri-Kansas state line in the Kansas City metropolitan area through early 2015.
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Kansas City, Mo., received a perfect 100 points for the second year in a row.

“Improved benefits for same-sex spouses and appointing an LGBT  liaison were just a few changes Kansas City implemented to achieve this great honor,” according to a statement by PROMO, an advocacy group in Missouri.

Kansas City, Kan., was rated  24 in LGBT-friendliness. While low, Kansas City, Kan., did better than it did in 2013, when the city was given a zero. Recent court rulings  in favor of same-sex marriage in Kansas had a lot to do with the higher score for Kansas City, Kan., according to a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign.

Some counties have started issuing marriage licenses in Kansas.  On Nov. 4, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Crabtree ruled the Kansas same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, following similar rulings in Utah and Oklahoma. Like those two states, Kansas falls within the 10th Judicial Circuit.

(See a timeline of recent same-sex marriage rulings in Kansas and Missouri here.)

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has appealed Crabtree’s ruling. However, the campaign wrote, before Crabtree’s decision, Kansas City, Kan., received only four points from the organization.

“Kansas is receiving twenty points on the basis of the marriage equality that will inevitably come ... following implementation of that decision,” the group said.

Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James welcomed the numbers from the campaign.

“Although we received a perfect score, we know we still have work to do to further embrace this valuable part of our community,” he said.

The full report is available here.

This look at the Missouri-Kansas state line is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders  and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them. Be a source for Beyond Our Borders: Share your perspective and experiences on the state line with KCUR.