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In Missouri, it's perfect legal to discriminate against someone on the basis of their sexual orientation. You can fire a person for being gay, refuse to rent to them or even turn them away from your store.
For the nineteenth consecutive year, legislation that would change that appalling reality has been introduced in the statehouse. For the nineteenth year, Democrats aim to try again to take away the right to discriminate.
The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, or MONA, would bar discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. If it became law, those categories would be added to Missouri's Human Rights Act, which already prevents such bias against anyone based on sex, race or national origin.
The bill is sponsored in the House by Representatives Randy Dunn (D-Kansas City) and Greg Razer (D-Kansas City), both openly gay men, and in the Senate by Senators Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur) and Tracy McCreery (D-St. Louis).
They're following in a long tradition: The bill was first introduced by then-Representative Steve McLuckie in 1998.
“Discrimination based upon someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is morally wrong," Dunn says. "Regardless of one’s beliefs, no one should be evicted or fired for who they are or who they love.”
The current state of political affairs — that is to say, a sea of more socially conservative Republicans, both nationally and on the state level — makes the passage of the bill unlikely. Last year, proponents spent their time playing defense, trying (and succeeding!
) to block a "religious freedom" bill that would have further codified the right to discriminate against same-sex couples. Just keeping the status quo required an epic filibuster
Still, proponents are determined to try.
“This issue isn’t Democratic or Republican — this issue is about fairness," says Razer. "Today, in 2017, right here in Missouri, it is still perfectly legal to fire someone from their job or kick them out of their home simply because they are LGBT. I feel confident that the vast majority of Missourians think that’s simply wrong. If someone puts in an honest day’s work, they deserve to keep their job and pay their bills, regardless of color of their skin, gender, religion or who they love.
"That’s just common decency," he adds, "and after nineteen years of trying, it’s time to get this bill passed.”