The city council of Topeka, Kan., home to the Westboro Baptist Church, on Tuesday night passed a measure to promote ways to end LGBT discrimination in the city.
The Topeka City Council voted 6-2 to pass an ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity on a list of issues about which the city's Human Rights Commission educates the public in order to prevent discrimination. The vote came after Councilman John Campos II (D) publicly announced that he was bisexual, a fact known to his friends and family but not previously a matter of public record. The ordinance was sponsored by City Councilman Chad Manspeaker (D), whose district includes Westboro.
The City Council's decision comes two years after it voted against creating a domestic partnership registry.
Manspeaker said it was important for the city to send the message that Topeka was "an inclusive community and a community that cares." He stressed that while he did not propose the ordinance based solely on Westboro Baptist Church's presence in Topeka, he did want to send a message to the world that the church does not define the city.
The WBC is notorious for its anti-LGBT protests of military funerals and other public events. And while it's known for its protests around the country, church members also regularly picket outside of stores, pharmacies and other public spots in their hometown.
"It is important that we send the message that we are not defined by that group," Campos told The Huffington Post. "There are good Christian folks here. It's not just [Westboro's] home, it is all of our homes."
Campos told HuffPost that he believes it was important to share who he is as part of the debate on the ordinance. With other council members sharing their own stories of discrimination, he said he wanted to make his known. While he has been out in his personal life, he said that he has never made his bisexuality a part of his public life, stressing that it does not have any impact on his work in local government. The Topeka Capitol-Journal reported that Campos identified himself as "an open, Christian, Catholic bisexual" during the meeting.
During the council meeting, opponents of the measure argued that it could potentially cause discrimination against heterosexuals and cause a rise in sexually transmitted diseases, according to the Capitol-Journal. Manspeaker told HuffPost that the commission will now work to prevent discrimination against an expanded class of people, which will not lead to any discrimination against the heterosexual community. Campos also noted that the Topeka Human Rights Commission is an educational, rather than enforcement, agency.
"The reality is, if you are a straight person and are discriminated against for any reason, you are protected," Manspeaker told HuffPost. "If you are discriminated against for being homosexual, you don't have any protections."
Manspeaker also said that safe sex should be promoted.
Twitter lit up Tuesday night after Manspeaker rebutted attacks from opponents who claimed that the ordinance goes against the Founding Fathers, who they said wanted a Christian nation. Manspeaker told the group that the "Bible is not our Constitution" and that the Founding Fathers were largely deists.
WBC tweeted its opposition to the measure and accused Manspeaker of bringing the "doom u deserve" to the city.
Topeka has fought back against Westboro in the past. Last year a citizens' group formed a human fence to prevent WBC from picketing at the funerals of two police officers killed in the line of duty. Also last year, then-state Rep. Sean Gatewood (D-Topeka) challenged WBC to picket his home instead of a military funeral.
Manspeaker also apologized to the people to Newtown, Conn., after WBC threatened to picket in the wake of the community's deadly school shooting. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) also denounced their intention to picket in Newtown.
Manspeaker told HuffPost that in the end he wants to stand up for the separation of church and state and to end discrimination.
"I know they want the Bible to be the Constitution, but it isn't," he said. "It has to be separate."
Related on HuffPost:
Boston Marathon Bombing Victims' Funerals
Flowers and a sign are left on a street post in Medford Square in remembrance of Krystle Campbell, 29, of Medford, Mass., who was killed by the bomb explosions at the Boston Marathon. Westboro pledged to picket the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/22/krystle-campbell-funeral_n_3131310.html" target="_blank">funerals of the bombing victims</a>, but <a href="http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/22/1203926/-Westboro-Baptist-Church-is-a-no-show-at-bombing-victim-s-funeral" target="_blank">members were not present at Campbell's service</a> on April 22, 2013.
Helicopter Pilot Jarett Yoder's Memorial Service
Counter-protests lined the streets outside the memorial service of Pennsylvania Guard helicopter co-pilot Jarett Yoder in Reading, Pa., on April 21, 2013, but <a href="http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/04/pa_guard_co-pilot_jarett_yoder_1.html" target="_blank">Westboro church members failed to show up</a> to the planned protest.
Roger Ebert's Funeral
Despite pledging to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/08/roger-ebert-westboro-baptist-church_n_3037250.html" target="_blank">protest the funeral of famed film critic Roger Ebert</a>, whom WBC labeled a "fag enabler," <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Westboro-Baptist-Church-To-Protest-Roger-Eberts-Funeral-201929641.html" target="_blank">no Westboro members were present</a> outside the Holy Name Cathedral on April 8, 2013, in Chicago.
Funeral Of Internet Activist Aaron Swartz
Westboro initially announced that it would <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2013/01/14/westboro_baptist_church_threatens_t.php" target="_blank">protest the funeral service of Internet activist Aaron Swartz</a>, who killed himself while being prosecuted by the U.S. government. But the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/westboro-baptist-church-aaron-swartz-anonymous_n_2479019.html" target="_blank">group backed off after hacker group Anonymous</a> got involved in January 2013.
Sandy Hook Principal's Funeral
The word "HOPE" is illuminated on the front lawn of the funeral home that hosted the wake of Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung. Though Westboro members traveled to Connecticut in December 2012 to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/19/westboro-baptist-church-protest-newtown-victim-funeral-_n_2331880.html" target="_blank">picket the slain principal's funeral service</a>, they never showed. A group of motorcyclists arrived en masse to block any church members from protesting.
The WBC also planned to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/westboro-baptist-church-picket-connecticut-school-shooting_n_2312186.html" target="_blank">picket a vigil for the other Newtown victims</a>, though the group did not specify which event it would crash. A tweet from one of its members implied that WBC would protest the vigil President Barack Obama planned to attend on Dec. 16, 2012. When the time came, however, church members were nowhere to be seen. After Westboro announced its plans, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/westboro-baptist-church-hacked-anonymous-protest-newtown-shooting-victims-funerals_n_2315070.html" target="_blank">Anonymous vowed retaliation</a>. The hacker group posted data that it claimed included the personal information of some of the church members, and it also took responsibility for hijacking Westboro spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper's Twitter account.
Fallen Soldier Justin Horsley's Funeral
After Westboro announced plans to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/05/westboro-baptist-church-protest_n_1745260.html" target="_blank">stage a protest at 21-year-old Army Specialist Justin Horsley's funeral</a> in August 2012, the family decided to hold the service earlier in the day to avoid a confrontation. Though nearly 1,000 supporters came out to <a href="http://www.wesh.com/news/central-florida/brevard-county/Family-decides-to-hold-Justin-Horsley-s-funeral-early/-/11788124/16014156/-/11a8p54/-/index.html" target="_blank">guard the service from picketing</a>, church members did not make an appearance.
Aurora Prayer Vigil For 'Dark Knight' Movie Shooting
A poster with personal messages is shown at sunrise at the memorial for victims of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting. Westboro members were reportedly en route to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/22/westboro-baptist-church-aurora-shooting-vigil_n_1693375.html" target="_blank">"super picket" a prayer vigil</a> in July 2012 but never showed.
Whitney Houston's Funeral
Fans sign a poster showing a picture of Whitney Houston near a funeral service for the singer at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., on Feb. 18, 2012. Westboro had set its sights on the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/16/whitney-houston-funeral-westboro-baptist-church_n_1283072.html" target="_blank">service of the late singer</a> but bailed at the last minute, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/20/westboro-baptist-church-whitney-houston-tweet_n_1288958.html" target="_blank">posting a photoshopped image</a> of what its protest would have looked like on Twitter.
Funeral Service For Charlie And Braden Powell
Photos of Charlie, right, and Braden Powell, left, are displayed during their funeral service on Feb. 11, 2012, in Tacoma, Wash. Westboro's threats to protest the service for the boys, who were killed by their father, were met with <a href="http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/02/08/2018371/westboro-church-to-picket-powell.html" target="_blank">promises of a counter-protest from Occupy Seattle</a>. Following an interview with conservative radio broadcaster Bobby D., church member Fred Phelps Jr. announced that the <a href="http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/02/westboro_baptist_church_calls.html" target="_blank">Washington trip was canceled</a>.
Syracuse's Involvement In Bernie Fine Case
Syracuse basketball assistant coach <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/17/bernie-fine-child-abuse-syracuse-basketball-investigation_n_1100579.html" target="_blank">Bernie Fine was placed on administration leave</a> following allegations of child molestation in November 2011. Though Westboro had planned to <a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/story/2011-12-02/westboro-baptist-church-does-not-protest-syracuse/51599424/1" target="_blank">protest the university's involvement in the scandal</a>, picketers never made an appearance on the given date.
Former First Lady Betty Ford's Funeral
A military honor guard carries the casket bearing the body of former first lady Betty Ford as they pass a statue of the former President at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., prior to funeral services at Grace Episcopal Church on July 14, 2011. Westboro initially declared that it would <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/11/westboro-baptist-betty-ford_n_894988.html" target="_blank">stage a demonstration outside Ford's service</a> because she had divorced her first husband; but <a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/westboro-no-show-betty-ford-funeral-298057" target="_blank">WBC never followed through</a> on its plans.
TV Personality Ryan Dunn's Funeral
The church planned to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/22/westboro-pickets-dunn_n_882299.html" target="_blank">picket the service of TV personality Ryan Dunn</a> -- known for his role on MTV's "Jackass" -- but <a href="http://www.pitch.com/FastPitch/archives/2011/06/23/westboro-baptist-church-fails-to-show-up-at-ryan-dunns-funeral" target="_blank">did not show up at the June 2011 funeral</a>, held in Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth Taylor's Funeral
Westboro church members had announced plans to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/24/westboro-baptist-church-elizabeth-taylor_n_839979.html" target="_blank">picket silver screen legend Elizabeth Taylor's funeral</a>. However, the private ceremony, which was held in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 24, 2011, <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/03/elizabeth-taylors-private-service-held-without-disruption-from-anti-gay-protesters.html" target="_blank">took place without disruption</a>.
Funerals Of Arizona Shooting Victims
Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords prepares to place flowers at a memorial with her husband, Mark Kelly, before attending a news conference where they asked Congress to provide stricter gun control in the United States. Westboro posted a flier on its website calling for a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/09/westboro-baptist-church-arizona_n_806319.html" target="_blank">protest of the funerals of the six people killed</a> in the shooting during a January 2011 constituent meeting in Tucson, Ariz., but did not appear at any of the services. In one case, WBC members <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/12/westboro-baptist-church-arizona-funerals_n_808088.html" target="_blank">backed off the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green</a>, killed in the Tucson shooting, in exchange for airtime from two radio stations.