PROMO, Missouri’s statewide organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality, has been working on the passage of the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act for several years. On Jan. 27, it came up again in a committee hearing. PROMO and other supporters testified. Jim Pittman, a Kansas City resident who was fired from his job because he was gay, also testified on why we need this protection.
PROMO explains the bill this way: “The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (SB 653) would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing Missouri Human Rights Statute, which currently prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations for other protected categories, including race, sex, religion and national origin. According to the Williams Institute, more than 160,000 LGBT adults in Missouri would benefit from an expanded statewide nondiscrimination law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.”
This year’s Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Joseph Keaveny, a Democrat from St. Louis. PROMO reports that “Over 1,062 Missouri small businesses support the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act.”
PROMO reported that on Feb. 3, the Progress & Development Committee, led by Keaveny, voted to pass MONA out of the committee. The report continued: “This is a step in the long process of completely passing MONA. Previously, in 2013, the Senate has voted once in favor of passing the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act out of the full Senate Chamber.”
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon included MONA in his last State of the State address. He said, “I repeat my call for the General Assembly to pass the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination against LGBT Missourians in employment, housing and public accommodations.”
Nixon also addressed marriage equality in his State of the State speech: “In July, I signed an executive order to ensure compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision establishing a right to same-sex marriage. No one should be discriminated against because of who they love. We’ve come a long way on this issue, but there is more to be done. It is unacceptable that Missourians can still be fired for being gay. That’s wrong, it’s not who we are – and it must change.”
Local and state chambers of commerce that support MONA include the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, St. Louis Regional Chamber, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis, and Hispanic Chamber in Kansas City.
However, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry testified against MONA at the Jan. 27 hearing, contending that it would frighten companies from doing business in Missouri.
PROMO has organized its annual lobbying day, called “Equality Day,” for Feb. 16, with people traveling to Jefferson City from St. Louis, Kansas City and throughout Missouri. A second Equality Day is planned April 20 at the Capitol.
PROMO states that “Equality Day brings together champions of equality to work alongside one another and speak with state legislators about why they support the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act to end discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, as well as speak against legislation that directly oppresses Missouri’s LGBT community. This year alone, we have seen four bills introduced infringing upon the rights of the transgender community and using the restrooms appropriate for their gender identity.”
We applaud the work of PROMO, our legislators and residents who continue the fight for equality in Missouri. For more information on PROMO and Equality Day, visit www.promoonline.org.