Kansas City declares itself a LGBTQ+ sanctuary city

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Officials in Missouri's largest city approved a resolution Thursday to declare it a sanctuary for people seeking or providing gender-affirming care, defying state lawmakers who voted a day earlier to ban such care for minors and restrict it for some adults.

Democratic Mayor Quinton Lucas praised the 12 to 1 vote, saying the city is committed to being a “welcoming, inclusive, and safe place for everyone, including our transgender and LGBTQ+ community.”

Kansas City’s new, sanctuary status sets it apart as a Democratic-leaning city in a state with a Republican governor and GOP-controlled Legislature. Similar actions have been taken in cities that oppose state actions to restrict rights for transgender people, as in Austin, Texas.

GOP Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign into law the ban on gender-affirming care, joining at least 16 other states that have enacted similar laws restricting or banning such care for minors.

The resolution also comes as a judge considers a proposed emergency rule from Republican state Attorney General Andrew Bailey that would require adults and children to undergo more than a year of therapy — and fulfill other requirements before they could receive gender-affirming treatment.

A committee signed off Wednesday on the resolution, which says the city will not prosecute or fine any person or organization that seeks, provides, receives or helps someone to receive gender-affirming care such as as puberty blockers, hormones or surgery.

It also says that if the state passes a law or resolution that imposes criminal or civil punishments, fines, or professional sanctions in such cases, personnel in Missouri's largest city will make enforcing those requirements “their lowest priority.”

Republican state lawmakers across the U.S. who've attacked gender-affirming care as part of a larger effort to roll back LGBTQ+ rights have argued that they're protecting children from decisions they may later regret. But gender-affirming care for minors has been available in the U.S. for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations.

“This is an important first step in Kansas City’s commitment to trans and nonbinary people,” Merrique Jenson, founder of Transformations KC, said in a written statement after the vote. “I look forward to trans leaders and Kansas City working together to address the health disparities in our communities and ways we can have sustainable funding & programming reaching all trans people.”