(WM) The commission that enforces Kansas’ nondiscrimination laws will begin hearing claims from people who allege they are being mistreated because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Kansas Human Rights Commission said Aug. 21 that the decision is in response to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a landmark civil rights law protects LGBT people from discrimination in employment.

But the commission expanded the ruling beyond employment cases, offering protections for people alleging discrimination in housing and public accommodations, such as retail stores and educational institutions. In Kansas, any business with four or more employees will be covered; the Supreme Court ruling affects businesses with at least 15 employees.

The LGBTQ-rights group Equality Kansas has been pushing for more than a decade to add sexual orientation and gender identity to a state law that includes protections based on race, religion, sex, disability, national origin or ancestry and in housing because of familial status.

“This is a great day for fairness in Kansas,” Executive Director Thomas Witt said in a news release.

The conservative Family Policy Alliance of Kansas chastised the decision.

“You’ve shown contempt for Kansans, for their duly elected representatives, and for the law itself,” the tweet from the group said. “We will work with Kansans every step of the way to help them take back the power you attempted to steal today.”


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