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Former Mo. GOP U.S. senator supports statewide LGBT protections

With just days left before the end of Missouri’s legislative session this week, former U.S. Sen. John Danforth has come out in support of the LGBT-inclusive Missouri Non-discrimination Act (MONA).

Former U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth (R-Mo.)
Former U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth (R-Mo.) AP

“For reasons of both principle and practicality, I strongly support this legislation,” wrote Danforth, in an op-ed published Monday in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

“Over the course of my career, I’ve had a number of talented staff members and colleagues who are gay or lesbian, several of whom have served as my most trusted advisers,” penned Danforth, a moderate Republican who represented the state in the upper chamber from 1976-1995.

“From them and others, I’ve learned a great deal. I know that one’s sexual orientation is a deeply ingrained characteristic. No one wakes up in the morning and says, ‘Hey, I’ve just decided to be gay.’ It’s simply part of who people are. And I also know that the aspirations of the gay people I have known are the same as everyone else’s: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

MONA would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Missouri’s Human Rights statute, which currently prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations for other categories, including race, biological sex and familial status.

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The bill would expand the definition of discrimination to include any unfair treatment based on a person’s “presumed or assumed” characteristics, and would benefit more than 160,000 LGBT adults statewide.

A House Committee heard testimony on the legislation on March 13. The bill now moves to the state senate which held hearings on MONA last month. If passed, Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has pledged to sign it into law.

Over 500 Missouri-based companies from across the state, including two of the Fortune 500, have voiced their support for workplace protections.

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