The Roeland Park City Council’s 4-3 vote against adding new protections to its business ordinance has resulted in the removal of public art from the city hall grounds.
Artist Bob Stone informed the mayor and council that he had removed his sculptures that had been on display. “Because of the denial of protection from discrimination for LGBT people, I have removed my sculptures from in front of City Hall that were on loan to a city that I have loved,” Stone wrote in a letter to the governing body.
Stone has had artwork on display in Roeland Park over several years. His “Banjo Man” sculpture is especially well-known around Roeland Park. He removed three pieces at city hall.
The city council last week voted against the addition of ant-discrimination language that would have added sexual orientation, gender identity and military status to protected classes in employment, housing and public accommodations. The ordinance had been debated for months.
Stone’s letter said that he had 13 years of Catholic education, mostly in Roeland Park and had worked in Roeland Park for 25 years. “…I was saddened and embarrassed that some of you have voted to deny the advancement of legislation that would have ensured basic civil rights to LGBT people. LGBT people are no less human than other oppressed people; no less human than Women, Native Americans, or African Americans.”
“It was unjust,” the letter read, “that Christianity and the Catholic Church were used by some to hide the true cause of votes to protect bigotry, hatred, fear and bullying, as if the church told you to vote to deny protection to LGBT people. Your votes came, not from ‘the Church,’ they came from your hearts.” Councilor Marek Gliniecki had cited his Catholic faith as a reason for his vote against the ordinance.
“What a regressive picture you have painted of Roeland Park,” Stone said. The empty bases are now left on city hall grounds where the sculptures stood.