Ten years ago I would have never predicted that marriage equality would surpass employment, housing and public accommodation protections. Basic nondiscrimination laws are equally important as we increase the quality of life for LGBT Missourians but has not amassed the same urgency from the community as marriage equality.
Approximately 160,000* LGBT Missourians would benefit from the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) which would protect the LGBT community from such discrimination. It’s crucial that we also invest our time and money in achieving these protections.
MONA is not only a key function of smart business in Missouri, but will also increase health outcomes for LGBT citizens. The Missouri Foundation for Health reports that, “Missourian’s are not protected against employment or housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. One in seven LGBT Missourians report experiencing workplace discrimination.” Not feeling accepted at work can greatly affect a person’s mental health and work performance. They conclude that, “ These social factors, when coupled with discrimination, correlate with poorer health.” The American Academy of Pediatrics also finds that basic nondiscrimination laws will produce positive health outcomes for children of LGBT families by decreasing discrimination and toxic stressors in the community. “Critical factors that affect the normal development and mental health of children are parental stress, economic and social stability, community resources, discrimination, and children’s exposure to toxic stressors at home or in their communities.”
The next time you give time or a gift to support equality in Missouri, it’s important to think beyond marriage equality and remember the myriad of protections that coincide with marriage. At the end of the day, we not only want a cake, but we want a picture of us eating it on our desk too. As we fight, side by side, for love and fairness in Missouri, let’s keep nondiscrimination at the forefront.
* William’s Instittue: Employment, Housing, and Public Accommodations Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Missouri