Timing is everything in politics, and the political climate may be right for Missouri lawmakers to pass legislation protecting the rights of the LGBT community in our state. For the past 20 years, the Missouri legislature has considered similar legislation, but to no avail.
This outcome, however, could change with a recently re-introduced bill known as the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, from state Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City. Razer is one of two openly gay members of the state’s General Assembly. The bill would protect people discriminated against due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.
In Missouri, you can still be fired for being gay
It’s been nearly three years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gays and lesbians could legally marry throughout the country. However, Missouri continues to lag behind other states – and even some Missouri cities and counties – regarding protecting the rights of individuals. In our state, a person can be fired from a job, denied housing or ejected from a food establishment for being gay or transgender.
By making it a state law, Missouri would be in step with two of our counties – Jackson and St. Louis – and 12 cities including Kansas City, St. Louis and Clayton that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Opponents call for bathroom bill
The bill, however, faces an uphill battle as legislative opponents counter that being gay is a behavioral issue, rather than a genetic one. One lawmaker has even countered by introducing a bill requiring students to use bathrooms that correspond with their assigned gender at birth.
Transgender Americans continue to face public and workplace discrimination. While the bill will be considered and debated in our General Assembly, it also would protect the rights of a group that has long been discriminated against.