Speakers - Fall '98 

George and Ned  Joan Wagnon  Sydney Carlin  Scott Curry 

Fall 1999

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Joan Wagnon, Mayor, Topeka 
Thursday, September 3    7:30 pm 

Joan Wagnon is currently the mayor of Topeka.  Her outspoken advocacy for equal rights for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals has caused her constant criticism by conservative groups. Joan is the first Kansas mayor to appoint an openly gay man and a lesbian to the city's nine-person Human Relations Commission. On Tuesday, June 9, the Topeka City Council stripped Mayor Wagnon of her power to appoint members of the HRC because of her action and disbanded the current commission in order to remove the two gay appointees. The City Council bowed to pressure by hatemonger Fred Phelps--whose Westboro Baptist Church advocates the execution of homosexuals--and local NAACP president, Rev. K.E. Hill, who called the gay commissioners "stated supporters of . . . sinful acts." 

Read the write-up in the Flint Hills Observer

Here is the letter from Topeka's Mayor Joan Wagnon, issued for the Gay Pride Parade Rally on June 13, 1998. 

June 13, 1998 

To:  Jo Ann Donnell 
Member:  Topeka Human Relations Commission 

I know you are speaking today at the Gay Pride event in Topeka, and because of an extended game of telephone tag, we were unable to connect on your request for a proclamation. 

Instead, would you share my thoughts with those assembled? 

The human race has always struggled with issues of equality.  We have outlawed slavery, religious and political persecution, race-based segregation, gender discrimination in our constitutions and statute books, and mostly, in our understanding of what constitutes acceptable behavior.  But we still struggle to understand and accept people whose sexual orientation may be different from the majority of people. 

I have come to believe that discrimination in any form, against another person is wrong.  To deny employment opportunities, or the right to rent an apartment, just because of sexual orientation is wrong. 

What the recent controversy over the Human Relations Commission's proposed study of discrimination against Gays and Lesbians in Topeka failed to produce was an understanding that there is discrimination, right here in Topeka. 

So I urge you not only to stand proudly as citizens of this city, but to file each and every complaint of discrimination with the Human Relations Commission, file a police report on each and every hate crime.  In short, help this community understand what you see regularly:  that unequal treatment does exist and should not be tolerated. 

Best Wishes today on your event. 

Mayor Joan Wagnon

Sydney Carlin, Democratic Candidate, 
State Representative, 66th District, Manhattan 
Thursday, October 1    7:30 pm 

Sydney Carlin is running for State Representative for the 66th District (against Jeff Peterson) where she has been a resident for 26 years. Sydney was a city commissioner from 1993-1997 and she was the Mayor of Manhattan from 1996-1997.  She has participated locally on such Boards as: Manhattan Public Library Board, Riley County Law Board, Parks Planning Board, and is currently on the Board of the Indigent Defense Fund.  Sydney was instrumental in blocking Cohen-Esrey, which was a plan to build corporate lower income housing rather than build on already existing resources in Manhattan. Historically, Sydney has reached out to include diversity on her staff. She looks forward to meeting everyone and exchanging ideas and learning how she can be helpful to her constituents. 

Read the write-up in the Flint Hills Observer.

Scott Curry, Openly gay practicing lawyer, Wichita 
Thursday, November 5     7:30 pm 

Scott Curry, tired of watching friends die and angry at a government that failed to respond to the AIDS crisis, became an activist in the early 80s. In 1992, Scott was the first openly gay man to speak to the Kansas Legislature. He has continued to lobby and educate on behalf of Queer Kansas. He went to Washburn School of Law in order to add law as a tool he could use in the struggle for social change. He is now a practicing lawyer in Wichita. His main focus is on Queer Law.  Scott is happy to provide assistance for and legal information pertaining to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. 
Read the write-up in the Flint Hills Observer.

George Pyle, Opinion Page Editor,Salina Journal 
Ned Seaton, News Editor, Manhattan Mercury 
Thursday, December 3     7:30 pm 

George Pyle and the Salina Journal made national news when the Journal included the wedding announcement of two gay men, Skip and Steve, on January 24, 1993.  Since then, no other Kansas publication has published a same-sex wedding announcement. George just won the Pullium Fellowship for Editorial writers, which carries a $40,000 award.  The Fellowship allows George the opportunity to study modern economics and the politics of agriculture for one year while he is on leave from the Journal

Although Ned Seaton is just the News Editor, someday he will take over the Manhattan Mercury, which is owned and run by Ned's father, Ed Seaton.  Ned recently moved back to Manhattan; his wife is a very gay-friendly physician in Manhattan.  Ned looks forward to meeting everyone at the December 3 event! 

Read the write-up in the Flint Hills Observer.