How Ashley, a Stranger in a Garden City, Won’t Let Kansas Be Too Green for Her

Introduction: What is Kansas?

Kansas is a state in the central part of the United States. The state can be roughly divided into three regions: the eastern region, which includes most of the cities and suburbs; the western region, consisting mostly of rural prairie and farmland; and (generally) suburban Kansas City. The capital of Kansas is Topeka. The state’s motto is “Ad astra per aspera” (“To the stars through difficulties”).
Kansas is bordered by Nebraska on the north; Missouri on the east; Oklahoma on the south; a small portion of Colorado in the southeast corner of Colorado at 41°N and 102°W, which extends into western Kansas; and Wyoming at 40°N and 104°W. The population density was 49 persons per square mile.
The state is divided into 105 counties. The largest by area is Reno County, which is in North Central Kansas. It comprises over 300 square miles, has a population of 201 thousand (reported as including the city of Dodge City), and includes the cities of Dodge City, Council Grove, Cowley, Ellinwood and Great Bend. Leavenworth County, which is in the eastern portion of the state and includes the city of Leavenworth is ranked second in size. The smallest county by area is Wallace County, located near the southeastern corner of the state. It comprises less than two square miles and has a population of 15 thousand, the vast majority of which reside in the county seat (Cherryvale).

garden city ks to wichita ks
garden city ks to wichita ks

Kansas’s Rich History with the LGBT Community and Its Diverse Communities Today

Kansas was initially settled by Americans of Southern states, but the frontier was opened to settlement by land seekers from European countries. Americans started immigrating in 1829 and settling in the western part of the state. Kansas’ history of fighting discrimination has shaped its development since its territorial days. From 1854 to 1861, Kansas was embroiled in Bleeding Kansas politics, which eventually set the stage for the American Civil War. Kansas became the 34th state to be admitted to the Union on January 29, 1861. After the Civil War, Kansas remained a rural state with few urban centers. National and regional companies flocked to Kansas City, Kansas after it became home to railroads, which became central to America’s transportation system (see Amtrak). However, in the late 19th century and early 20th century, to relieve its population pressures, Kansas became a destination for many African Americans migrating from the South. The movement of black immigrants into Kansas was met with some resistance, and discrimination persisted. Kansas saw its greatest growth in the heartland boom era around World War I and World War II, when it became known as the “Boom State”.

garden city ks to wichita ks
garden city ks to wichita ks

The State of LGBT Rights in Kansas Today

Kansas has taken steps to recognize same-gender relationships, including marriage. The state does not have a hate crimes law that explicitly protects LGBT people. Kansas does not allow gay marriage or civil unions. The state permits adoption by gay couples and discrimination based on sexual orientation is banned in Kansas City and Topeka. Kansas is considering a law that would ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The state does not provide protections for transgender people. Kansas has no state law that protects LGBT people against discrimination in housing, working environments, or public accommodations.
Same-gender marriage and civil unions in Kansas?
In 2004, a bill to allow same-gender marriage or civil unions failed to reach the signature threshold for passage. A legal battle over the issue begun before then when the city of Lawrence started issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples. The state Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of the city.
In 2009, the state Senate approved a constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage and civil unions. The House declined to vote on the amendment.
Adoption statistics for gay parents in Kansas?

garden city ks to wichita ks
garden city ks to wichita ks

Ashley’s Journey as an Openly Gay Woman in Kansas

After realizing that she was gay, Ashley was in a relationship with her partner of six years, Felipe. When she went to apply for a passport renewal, Kansas denied her application because the state had never (according to law) accepted same-sex marriages sanctioned by other states or countries. She was forced to obtain a marriage license in New York, but was denied a marriage license in Kansas due to its denial of same-sex marriages. Kansas immediately recognized the civil unions of New York and other states. Ashley could only get the civil union through the courts rather than a state government, which is what she wanted. The matter took two years for it to finally be decided by the courts. Currently, Kansas does not allow gay marriage or civil unions. Felipe and Ashley had their first child together at the beginning of this year (2014). Ashley had to obtain a transfer of her health insurance from her employer just to obtain the same benefits she received in New York, which were much more generous than those offered by Kansas. Her partner also pays half of the child’s medical bills, which are very high.
Ashley’s Journey as an Openly Gay Woman in Kansas
By Ashley Kaimath [in Kansas from Garden City, KS]
Ashley Kaimath is a reporter for KTKC-TV in Wichita, Kan. She is originally from Garden City, Ks.
Ashley Kaimath
KASHLAND, KS � I was born in Garden City, Kansas where I lived in a house full of my siblings and cousins. Growing up, my family always talks about how we would gather for Thanksgiving and other celebrations.� My dad is a retired Wichita attorney who passed away when I was 14 years old.� My mom worked the night shift for the school district. She loved taking care of kids. I remember her walking the halls with me to visit the teachers.� My family was always very close and I grew up learning to respect women.�

garden city ks to wichita ks
garden city ks to wichita ks

Why Ashley Will Always Love Garden City

After dating Felipe in New York, Ashley moved to Garden City. They decided to move to Kansas because it was closer to Ashley’s family and she did not want her child growing up in an environment where her sexual orientation would be questioned or treated as unequal. After six months of living in Garden City, she became pregnant with their first child, a baby girl named Tsiana. The couple then decided that they would move back to Garden City after the birth of the child. She has spent six months in Kansas City and Topeka, where the experiences have been no different from New York. Ashley loves living in Kansas because of the community she is part of, where everybody knows her and cares about her. She says she can be exactly who she wants to be in Garden City, something that was not possible in New York or every other place she lived before.
Why Ashley Will Always Love Garden City
When Ashley moved to Kansas, her first impression of Garden City was: “It’s like the middle of nowhere. And that’s the way I like it. It gives me the freedom to be myself.” Moving away from what she had known, she has found that there can be a lot of misconceptions about Kansas. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, she does not see Garden City as anything less than a paradise for everyone. “I’ve have met so many wonderful people who are just as different as I am. They are so open and accepting of everyone.” Ashley loves the friends that she has made here. “They have been so supportive of me. The friendships I have made in Garden City will last a life time.”

garden city ks to wichita ks
garden city ks to wichita ks

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