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LGBT rights advocates gather at Mo. capitol to lobby for statewide protections

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
LGBT rights advocates gather at the Missouri state capitol on on Feb. 19 for Equality Day.

LGBT rights advocates gather at the Missouri state capitol on on Feb. 19 for Equality Day.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Show Me State’s annual Equality Day was held at the state capitol in Jefferson City on Wednesday, where dozens of LGBT and allied Missourians lobbied state lawmakers to support the Missouri Nondiscrimination (MONA) and Safe Schools Acts, which were recently introduced in both chambers.

“This is a year of change,” said A.J. Bockelman, Executive Director of PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization. “We are seeing bipartisan appeal around our issues in Missouri.”

MONA, PROMO’s perennial landmark legislation has a long history in Jefferson City, and proponents say this could be its year to pass.

The bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Missouri’s Human Rights Statute, which already protects other categories, including race, biological sex and familial status. Last year, the legislation passed through the Senate but failed to reach the House floor.

“I support it because it’s the right thing to do, without a doubt,” offered Mo. Rep. Noel Torpey (R-Kansas City). “In my eyes this is an issue as clear-cut as possible. It’s simply a choice between right and wrong and we need to pass it.”

Sen. Scott Sifton (D-Affton) agreed. Sifton recently acknowledged that his father was a member of the LGBT community last week while calling for the passage of MONA.

“I thought it was important for people to understand that I’m not just some progressive politician up here posturing,” Sifton explained. “It’s important to me and my family, including my father and my father’s brother [who is also gay]. I’m passionate about it because it impacts people I’ve known my entire life.”

The day started off with a rally in the rotunda featuring a host of speakers, including out Missouri legislators Sen. Jolie Justus (D-Kansas City) and Mike Colona (D-St. Louis). Attendees were then broken down by district and lobbied representatives from both chambers.

“I think we’ve got a great chance to get it done,” continued Sifton. “I think we need to take Michael Sam’s coming out as a rallying point to get it done this year.”

To date, 14 cities and counties in Missouri have nondiscrimination ordinances that include both sexual orientation and gender identity.

The proposed Safe Schools legislation would add enumerated categories to the existing anti-bullying statute. These include protection from bullying for Missouri students on actual or perceived characteristics, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or mental, physical or sensory disability, or the basis of association with others identified by these categories.

“It’s important to include enumerated categories so school administrators and school boards know how to train and educate their staff,” said Tracy McCreery, former Mo. State Rep. from Olivette and Manager of Public Policy for PROMO.

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7 more reader comments:

  1. Omg I need to be there. This is so crappy. I need a effin car.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:13am
  2. Proud to say I know several of them…wish I could have made it.

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:18am
  3. I am proud and must say salute to all

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 4:57am
  4. Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:05am
  5. Love it!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:05am
  6. Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 5:53am
  7. Just thought I would let everyone know; if you don’t already; that there was a Dear Abby article about a couple who just moved to Florida and found out that they had gay neighbors at a get to know the neighborhood party. Well, when it was their turn to host one; no one showed up because they did not invite the gay couple. Well, the editor told them that the reason being was because of their views about homosexuality. In essence she put them in their place. Just goes to show how this couple ;who just moved there; were educated in the school of life. Meaning, no education on equality whatsoever and a lot of education on discrimination. I have a family member who is gay and they are proud of it! And the rest of the family and I are proud of them!!!

    Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 9:04am