The ACLU of Missouri has announced that it is filing a lawsuit against the state on behalf of eight legally married LGBT couples who are Missouri residents.
PROMO, Missouri’s statewide organization fighting for the rights of the LGBT community, assisted the ACLU with the press conferences. PROMO is playing a supportive role only and is not a party to the lawsuit.
Today’s news is of historic proportions because these lawsuits are often the first step in repealing states’ constitutional amendments that ban same-sex marriage. The prospect that this could lead to Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage being overturned is overwhelming, especially considering that Missouri was the first state to enact such a constitutional amendment in 2004 after the victory of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.
Jim MacDonald and Andy Schuerman are one of the married couples in the lawsuit and the only ones who are Kansas City area residents. They were legally married in Vancouver, British Columbia, in July 2005 and have a daughter.
“We’re just excited to a part of the lawsuit,” MacDonald said. “For the community at large, it would prove to be a symbolic victory across the state. For us, it also means protection for our own family in getting our marriage recognized by the state of Missouri.”
In other Missouri news, ESPN broke the story that Mizzou All American defenseman Michael Sam is gay. In his interview with reporter Chris Connolly on the Feb. 9 Outside the Lines program, Sam said, “I am an openly, proud gay man.” Sam then went on to describe more about his reasons for coming out, something that he had already done with his teammates in August 2013.
The story ignited lots of media coverage, mostly positive. National and local network news stations couldn’t cover this story enough. After all, if Sam is drafted in May this year, he would become the first openly gay NFL player in history. In the meantime, Sam seems to be handling the situation confidently, saying that he just wants to be open and proud and that football is his focus.
But the fact remains that if Michael Sam were employed in the state of Missouri, he could still be fired for being gay because the state still has not passed comprehensive non-discrimination employment protection for LGBT residents. PROMO is working hard with our legislators to pass the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA), which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Yes, with these two significant news stories, February has been an exciting month for the LGBT community, particularly in Missouri.