Roeland Park issues proclamation promoting inclusiveness drafted by resident in response to divisive presidential election


By Holly Cook

A proclamation supporting diversity and inclusiveness in respect to “ethnicity, customs, race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity or military status” was unanimously adopted by the Roeland Park city council Monday.

Councilor Becky Fast moved to adopt the proclamation and Councilor Teresa Kelly seconded the motion. Mayor Joel Marquardt signed the symbolic statement.

The proclamation urges residents to learn from other’s differences and “remember that we are all human beings, friends and neighbors and deserve respect.”

Monday’s vote did not generate any debate among councilors or the public, unlike the anti-discrimination ordinance narrowly passed by the council in August 2014. The 2014 ordinance banned discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity.

Councilors Fast and Kelly voted in favor of the 2014 ordinance while councilors Michael Rhoades and Sheri McNeil voted against it. Rhoades and McNeil were not present at Monday’s city council meeting and therefore did not vote on the proclamation.

Roeland Park resident and Wyandotte High School teacher Michael Rebne said he drafted the proclamation as a response to negativity surrounding the 2016 presidential campaign. Councilman Ryan Kellerman, who missed the meeting on account of illness, finalized the language approved by the council.

“I wish as a country, as a city, as a place to live we …endorse treating people better,” Rebne said.

Rebne said he hoped the proclamation would support Roeland Park’s acceptance of diversity.

“It’s simply a proclamation but I think symbols are powerful and I think words matter,” he said.