News (USA)

Mo. legislature adjourns without taking action on LGBT non-discrimination bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The 2014 Missouri state legislative session adjourned Friday without a vote on the LGBT-inclusive Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA).

Missouri state capitol in Jefferson City.
Missouri state capitol in Jefferson City.
Proponents of the legislation, which has been introduced annually since 1999, say they will continue their efforts next year.

“It’s clear to me after working this last session closely on both sides of the aisle that there’s a strong political will to get this done,” said A.J. Bockelman, Executive Director of PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization. “Unfortunately at this time they [the Republican-controlled legislature] didn’t have the political courage to take this vote.”

“We’re not dead,” Bockelman continued. “I’m incredibly disappointed but we’ll live to fight tomorrow.”

Bockelman said one of the things working against them was the large number of Democrats and some pro-MONA Republicans who were absent this week for various reasons.

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.

The bill would expand the definition of discrimination to include any unfair treatment based on a person’s “presumed or assumed” characteristics, regardless of whether those presumptions are correct.

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Both House and Senate Committees heard testimony on MONA earlier this year. Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, had pledged to sign the legislation into law.

To date, 15 cities and counties in Missouri have nondiscrimination ordinances that include both sexual orientation and gender identity.

This year, 542 Missouri-based companies from across the state, including two of the Fortune 500, voiced their support for workplace protections.

Last year, the legislation passed through the Senate but failed to reach the House floor.

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