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This city just declared itself a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people

The trans flag at an August 21, 2017 protest
Photo: Shutterstock

The Columbia, Missouri City Council declared the city a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people this past Monday in a 6-1 vote. The city council meeting was packed with supporters for the measure.

“We literally heard from every ward in Columbia,” said councilmember Roy Lovelady.

The ordinance says that Columbia is a safe place for people to express their support for LGBTQ+ people. It makes the enforcement of a 2023 state law banning gender-affirming care the lowest priority for law enforcement in the city and establishes policies for working with other jurisdictions trying to prosecute people for getting or helping others get gender-affirming care.

“The City Council affirms that being LGBTQ is not a disorder, disease, illness, deficiency or shortcoming and commits to finding ways to improve social outcomes for LGBTQ Columbians,” the ordinance reads.

“It’s really unfortunate that we even have to consider this,” said city councilmember Nick Knoth.

“The queer community is already a minority community in the United States so having our voices heard, that recognition, that safety that makes us feel protected is really important,” said NClusion+ cofounder Anthony Plogger. “It’s essential.”

Several trans students from the University of Missouri talked about their experiences being bullied and said that the ordinance would make them feel safer, according to ABC 17.

“In July 2022 in Camden, Ohio, a young transgender man named Noah Ruiz was beaten by three cisgender men after using a woman’s restroom,” a transgender man said at the meeting. “The owner of the faculty had instructed him to use the woman’s room because he was assigned female at birth. Do you think his attackers let up when he explained he had a vagina? No, they called him homophobic slurs as they beat him.”

Councilmember Don Waterman was the only vote against the ordinance. He said he agreed with the intentions behind it but that he didn’t think it would do anything to reduce bullying or hate crimes in the city.

“For an ordinance, I do not see a need for it,” he said.

Some people who spoke against the ordinance said that it would take away their right to express their religious views.

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