January is a special time in Missouri. As in many other states, it signals the start of the state’s legislative session, that time of year when legislators from around the state convene in Jefferson City to do the people’s business. This year, I will be representing PROMO, along with our Interim Executive Director Steph Perkins at the capitol.
There’s no mistaking that the state capitol is a serious place. The building that dominates the skyline in every direction in Jefferson City and houses the center of our state government is unmistakable. When you see it, you know that important things happen inside. Whenever I visit, I am always impressed by the opportunity I have to be part of making a difference by supporting policies that better the lives of the people and communities that I am part of and care about deeply.
Recently, I stood in the rotunda and took a moment to just pause and listen. All around me, I heard the scurried footsteps of legislators, staffers, visitors, and lobbyists each rushing to their next assignment or meeting. Occasionally, those sounds gave way to whispered conversations, bursts of laughter, and shouts down the hall of “Hey, happy New Year. How’s it going?” One thing is clear: the energy is palpable — people are here to get things done.
It would be easy to slip into a sort of lethargy about our equal rights agenda. To think that passing crucial legislation would be as easy as offering a quick smile or a wave hello. But the reality is that we have a great deal of work ahead of us. And it won’t always be easy going. The camaraderie and decency that characterized the opening hours of Missouri’s 98th Legislative Session will likely fade as we begin the serious work of trying to pass nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Missourians (Missouri Nondiscrimination Act), secure the right of transgender Missourians to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity (already three anti-transgender bathroom bills have been filed), or any of a number of other vital protections sought by Missouri’s diverse and growing LGBT community. You can learn more about each of these items here.
At PROMO, we never rest until we have done all we can to advance the issues LGBT Missourians face. We will work in close partnership with our friends and allies who are in office, as well as with collaborative organizations that embrace our mission. But make no mistake about it; YOU are the key ingredient to a recipe for success. Your voice, advocacy, contribution, and support make all the difference. We could not do what we do without you.
Yours for equality,
p.s. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Equality Day on February 16, a chance for you to join PROMO in talking to legislators about issues facing LGBT Missourians.