In 2016, we spent the majority of our time in legislative session defeating the anti-LGBT SJR 39. So far this year, we have been successful in stopping all of the legislation that is specifically anti-LGBT, including anti-LGBT religious exemption bills, anti-trans bathroom bills, and bills that would undermine marriage equality. But our work is far from over this session. The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) is scheduled for a hearing, and there are two bills that we see as significant threats to equality in more than ways than one: SB 43 and SB 45.
I’ll be honest, SB 43 and SB 45 are complicated and difficult to explain in a really brief, simple way. Both bills attempt to undermine the entire Missouri Human Rights Act, the state law that ensures nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
In short, SB 43 and SB 45 would make it harder to prove an employee faced discrimination in the workplace, seek legal recourse, or hold anyone accountable for the discrimination or harassment.
LGBT people are not currently protected under the Missouri Human Rights Act, but we strongly believe that civil rights laws like the Missouri Human Rights Act are a critical tool for ensuring fairness for people who have long been targets of discrimination and harassment. In fact, the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA), is scheduled for a hearing today, and we will be there to testify. You can follow along at this link live at 4pm and #MONA17 on Twitter.
While we trust that Missouri will see the importance of including LGBT protections in the near future, it is still critical for Missouri to continue to allow for a fair, able process when an employee faces discrimination, not make it harder for a wronged employee to seek recourse.
Being able to fairly seek legal recourse when you have faced discrimination is a critical reason for having nondiscrimination and civil rights laws in the first place. Every Missourian should have the opportunity to be themselves and provide for their families. When discrimination takes that away from someone because of their race, religion, national origin – or even unprotected categories like sexual orientation and gender identity – fair, legal recourse should be available, not further restricted.
p.s. Don't forget to join us for Equality Day tomorrow, April 19 at 9am, at the Capitol!