Your Source for News on LGBT Politics and Issues in Missouri. Fri, 26 May 2017 21:18:43 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb What Do I Do Now? What Do I Do Now?

I started this blog at least 10 different ways, and none of them felt appropriate. How do you tell people that the Federal government is crafting policy that can impact their daily life, but we don’t know what that looks like or when it will affect life as they know it? At PROMO, we have a job to do. We keep you informed on the most important issues impacting the LGBT community. But, what happens when the professionals are stumped by this trumped up action to discriminate? We stay vigilant. We stay engaged. We stay empowered to resist. Together. All of us.

Yesterday was a heavy day for Americans everywhere. The President signed a very broad religious freedom Executive Order (EO) that has potential to create barriers for LGBT Americans at every intersection of life. The House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). This new health care policy threatens to impact millions of Americans ability to access quality affordable health insurance coverage. The potential impact of the AHCA has detrimental effects on people with preexisting conditions, women, and transgender people.

We could put out a bunch of speculation about how 45’s EO will impact your life, your family, or your aging parents, but what good will that do anyone? The truth is that your LGBT movement leaders are working to exhaustion to try and understand the potential threats caused by this EO. We are working with legal organizations like the ACLU to understand the legal and constitutional challenges that could be brought in retribution. However, until the people exercise the freedoms granted by this EO, we do not know the extend of the law in defense or support. We will keep you informed in whatever that capacity that looks like. Sometimes the message will be clear and specific. Sometimes the message will be to just hang in there, and we will let you know something as soon as we have an understanding of the implications.

Everyone must get involved in the process. There is no more time for passive civic engagement. We need every single person working for justice. If your privilege has allowed you to remain disengaged, what are you waiting for? If you are not able to give time, please give treasure. If you have neither, what is your special skill? How can you use what you have to create change and be part of the movement? Everyone is capable of creating change. You just need to decide to participate.

What do you do now? Live your life. Love with your whole self. And, laugh with great joy. We need to work hard and play harder. PROMO is hosting our largest fundraiser of the year on May 13, 2017 at the Grandel Theater. This event is 20% of our operating budget . Please consider joining us to celebrate LGBT equality victories,engage with the work that PROMO does in our state defending anti-LGBT legislation, and dance, eat, and play with new and old friends as we raise necessary funds to ensure that PROMO continues to exist to protect LGBT Missourians now and for years to come.

We have work to do, Missouri. PROMO is ready and will never back down. Who’s with us?


]]> (Elizabeth Fuchs) Your Source for News on LGBT Politics and Issues in Missouri. Fri, 05 May 2017 12:49:32 -0500
Meet Karis: Southwest Missouri Area Field Organizer Meet Karis: Southwest Missouri Area Field Organizer

Greetings from Springfield!

PROMO is known as Missouri’s statewide organization advocating for our LGBT community. With our office in St. Louis, it is vital to have remote organizers on the ground in areas which need us most. I am thankful to be one of those organizers serving Missouri’s southwest region including Springfield.

Over the past three months, I have been settling into the position of Field Organizer, and I have to say that there is no limit to the work we need to accomplish for LGBT Missourians. It is crucial for us to expand the work we have already achieved in southwest Missouri in order to ensure equality for LGBT folks in this area.

I’ve spent my first months getting to know many of you, but I’ve learned an important lesson: there are equality supporters everywhere. I hope to meet all of you, hear your stories, and listen to your needs.

If we have yet to meet, I extend an invitation to stop by while I am working in the GLO Center, located at 518 East Commercial Street, Fridays between 1 and 6 pm. You can also usually find me at the Hurts Donuts Company at 320 Park Central on Sunday nights after 6 pm. One of my goals as the Field Organizer in Springfield is to be as accessible as possible to members of our community. I am here for you.

In the coming months, I will continue to work with area businesses, health providers, and organizations making sure that staff are trained to work with LGBT folks and have up to date policies, including nondiscrimination policies. I will also be locating and documenting more resources open to LGBT folks in the southwest region. In addition, I am here to educate you about what is happening in the Capitol during legislative session and the best actions we can take to move towards equality. Finally, I strive to be in meetings and spaces representing LGBT voices in our community making sure that we are included in the conversations and actions that affect all of us.

We have made significant strides in southwest Missouri thanks to the hard work of Steph Perkins. I am honored to be your Field Organizer in Springfield to help further the work that need to be done in this area to ensure equality for ALL Missourians.

I invite you to be part of this work and this movement. Stop by and visit me at GLO or Hurts Donuts. Just send me an email at or call (417) 512-4834 letting me know to expect you.
I can’t wait to meet even more equality supporters here in the Ozarks.

]]> (Karis Agnew) Your Source for News on LGBT Politics and Issues in Missouri. Tue, 25 Apr 2017 09:25:24 -0500
The Newest PROMO Staff Member The Newest PROMO Staff Member

My name is Mandi Kowalski, and I am the new face on the PROMO team that you will be seeing at events and in our community. I am thrilled to be joining a team of such passionate and talented individuals who have also made it their mission to fight for the rights of those disenfranchised in the state of Missouri. 

To me, PROMO isn’t just an organization that represents Missouri’s LGBT community -- it educates and empowers people. I am so excited to be part of an organization that directly impacts lives and works to make sure people know how valuable their participation is in this movement and in the work to secure legal protections across the state.

As I get settled in my new role, I am eager to reach out within St. Louis, as well as to the often overlooked communities beyond the I-270 divide. As we all know, LGBT Missourians face a host of challenges in our everyday lives, but we have made significant progress toward LGBT equality. Our work ensures that more and more people agree that we deserve the same opportunities to succeed and care for ourselves and our families. As part of Team PROMO, I aim to continue to make sure LGBT voices from all areas of Missouri are heard. You matter. 

It is with much gratitude and respect for my LGBT family in Missouri that I join Team PROMO and get to work for (and with) you!

I look forward to seeing you in the community!

]]> (Mandi Kowalski) Your Source for News on LGBT Politics and Issues in Missouri. Thu, 20 Apr 2017 12:10:20 -0500
What Is Happening At the Capitol This Week What Is Happening At the Capitol This Week

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!


]]> (Steph Perkins) Your Source for News on LGBT Politics and Issues in Missouri. Tue, 18 Apr 2017 10:09:03 -0500
A Look At What Mayor Slay Has Done for the LGBT Community A Look At What Mayor Slay Has Done for the LGBT Community

In his sixteen years as mayor, Mayor Francis Slay has shown his true love for St. Louis’ LGBT community. From actively passing pro-LGBT ordinances and policies, to voicing opposition against statewide anti-LGBT bills, to tangibly challenging the state’s ban on marriage equality, and so much more, he has made St. Louis a better place for LGBT people and families to live, work and play. On his last day as Mayor of St. Louis, we want to thank him for his leadership and action to support the LGBT community. 

Let’s take a look at just a few of the steps he has taken to support LGBT equality.

In 2001, his first year in office, Slay embarked on the beginning of his journey with the LGBT community serving as Grand Marshal of St. Louis’ PrideFest parade. One of his first initiatives was to establish an Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Since its creation, the office has regularly sought input from leaders in the LGBT community as to how to make St. Louis a safer and healthier place for LGBT citizens.

In 2009, Slay was a vocal proponent of local, statewide, and federal LGBT protections. Together with the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen, Slay passed an ordinance that required LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies for contractors on city projects. He also voiced support for the Matthew Shepard Hate Crime Act that instituted stricter federal hate crime statutes, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Under Slay’s direction and leadership, the City of St. Louis regularly lobbies in Jefferson City in support of the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act and against anti-LGBT bills like SJR 39 and others. 

Slay worked again with the Board of Aldermen in 2010 to make St. Louis a more just and inclusive city, signing Board Bill 67 and extending discrimination protections for housing, employment, education, and public services to include gender identity. That same year, noting the importance of having data reflecting the LGBT population, Slay encouraged citizens to “come out” on the census and be counted. 

2014 brought Slay to the forefront of national controversy when he directly challenged the state’s ban on same-sex marriage by hosting weddings of four same-sex couples in his City Hall office. That action prompted one of three lawsuits in Missouri challenging the ban on same-sex marriage. Slay also joined the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry coalition.

"St. Louis is a city that doesn’t tolerate discrimination. We are sending a message on what’s right, and I can’t think of anything more right than this."

While under Slay’s leadership, St. Louis sent a firm message to the state and country in 2016, when it became the 3rd city in the entire country to raise the transgender flag at a government building.

“It’s a message we’re sending that the city is welcoming to everyone regardless of who you love or how you identify yourself.”

In the final months of his tenure, Slay joined the newly established Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination Coalition alongside Mayor Sly James Jr. of Kansas City, Mayor Shelley Welsch of University City, and Mayor Eileen Weir of Independence. The coalition is a bipartisan effort dedicated to promoting and securing inclusive, nondiscrimination protections for all citizens.

St. Louis has regularly been named one of the United States’ most LGBT friendly cities, in part due to leadership from Mayor Slay. Since its conception in 2012, St. Louis has received a perfect score on the HRC’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI).

On behalf of PROMO, I would like to express sincere gratitude to Mayor Slay for all of the important steps that he and his office have taken toward achieving city-wide and statewide equality. Join me in thanking him, by sending a note of thanks.

]]> (Mandi Kowalski) Your Source for News on LGBT Politics and Issues in Missouri. Mon, 17 Apr 2017 11:26:18 -0500
Meet Dan Meet Dan

It is my privilege and honor to take on the role as Program Coordinator of SAGE of PROMO Fund. As a member of the LGBT community, former SAGE intern and volunteer, and future older person I am excited about the opportunity to serve the older members of the LGBT community in St. Louis and across Missouri. 

Over the past years I have dedicated my career and academic efforts towards bettering the lives of older adults. Through my research efforts involving individuals with dementia and investigating health access inequalities of older LGBT adults along with my non-profit experience in the aging field, I am confident in my ability to not only maintain but grow SAGE of PROMO Fund in St. Louis and beyond.

As I undertake this new role I have three priorities:

1. Educate the older LGBT community on their rights, relevant policy, and preparation they may need to age successfully.

2. Continue to foster and build relationships with aging service providers as a means to educate and advocate on behalf of our community.

3. Provide enriching and meaningful community development that not only foster relationship among our older adults but across generations as well. 

It is my honor to take on this role and one I do not take lightly. It is so crucial that we support those who have come before us and ensure that we are advocating and educating on behalf of ALL LGBT Missourians across the age spectrum.

I look forward to meeting you all (hopefully at the Lunch and Learn on April 19) and taking on this new role. You can learn more about me from my bio on the PROMO staff page.


]]> (Dan Stewart) Your Source for News on LGBT Politics and Issues in Missouri. Fri, 14 Apr 2017 11:15:00 -0500
What Comes Next for the Affordable Care Act and What Does It Mean for You? What Comes Next for the Affordable Care Act and What Does It Mean for You?

For the past seven years, Republican leaders have been united in opposition to the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”) despite the fact that the United States has made significant gains since the law was enacted in 2010.
Uninsured rates are at historic lows
, consumers are satisfied with their marketplace coverage, and the burden of uncompensated care on safety net hospitals and state budgets has been dramatically reduced.

These benefits have been especially important for LGBTQ people. More LGBTQ people than ever before have health insurance. 2017 was the best year EVER for transgender people to get covered. And LGBTQ people are now protected from discrimination in health care simply for being you. This means that your partner or spouse can visit you in the hospital; and doctors, nurses, and other staff should use your correct name and pronoun and admit you to a hospital room or ward based on your gender identity. 

So—we’ve made a lot of progress under the Affordable Care Act! But what comes next, especially for LGBTQ communities? Beyond the scary headlines, partisan Facebook posts, and confusion, what do you really need to know?

First, nothing has changed.

The Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land. If you receive financial help to buy a plan at, that help will still be there and you should keep paying your premiums. (And you can still enroll if you qualify for a “special enrollment period!”)

Even more important, all LGBTQ people are still protected from discrimination in health insurance and health care. Section 1557—the nondiscrimination protection in the Affordable Care Act—is still in place and can’t be repealed by Republicans in Congress (it would take 60 votes in the Senate which is unlikely). This means that you should be respected when using your health insurance or accessing health care.

If you face any discrimination, let PROMO know. PROMO has worked with MO HealthNet and the Missouri Department of Insurance and has identified many LGBTQ-affirming hospitals across the state. You can also let me know at or contact a legal organization to help.

If and when there are changes that affect you, PROMO and Out2Enroll will let you know—in the meantime, get the health care that you need with the confidence that you should be treated fairly.

Second, we are winning but there’s more work to do.

There are many debates happening about the future of our country, both in Missouri and in Washington DC. And we know you’re receiving a lot of requests to step up and take action. So far, those efforts are making a real difference when it comes to health care and protecting Planned Parenthood (one of the largest provider of transgender health care in the United States!).

But we will continue to need your help to protect the Affordable Care Act—and other programs like Medicaid and our friends at Planned Parenthood—that are critical for LGBTQ health. This LGBT Health Awareness Week, join Out2Enroll and PROMO in ensuring that the LGBTQ community is not left behind when it comes to affordable, quality health coverage.

We’ve come too far in LGBTQ health to turn back now.

]]> (Katie Keith) Your Source for News on LGBT Politics and Issues in Missouri. Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:05:21 -0500
Another Filibuster By Our Equality Champions Another Filibuster By Our Equality Champions

For only the second time in history, the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) was debated on the Senate floor last night.

Over the last two days, Senate Democrats have been filibustering Senate Bill 43, a bill that would raise the burden of proof in cases of discrimination, essentially making it more difficult to prove that you've faced unlawful discrimination in the workplace. At a time when division, discrimination, and harassment overall is increasing, this is especially troubling. We have testified against and spoken out about the dangers of this bill throughout legislative session, yet the Missouri Senate continued to move it forward.

During the filibuster of SB 43, Sen. Jill Schupp, one of the "Mighty Eight" Senators who filibustered SJR 39 for 39 hours last year and a true champion for LGBT equality, introduced an amendment to SB 43 with language similar to the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA).

Because of this amendment, MONA was debated on the Senate floor a second time -- the first being when it passed out of the Senate in 2013. And even though the amendment eventually failed with a vote of 20-10 (8 Democrats and 2 Republicans), having that space to have an open, public discourse about the importance of protecting LGBT Missourians is invaluable.

We know it is only a matter of time (and diligence and hard work) that MONA will be a reality in Missouri. Yet we also know that there is a clear agenda this legislative session to roll back laws that protect people from discrimination already. We will remain vigilant in fighting against these rollbacks.

Our role and our relationships within the Capitol while discriminatory bills are being debated is critical but only a piece of our larger work. As the Missouri Legislature works to make discrimination easier, we will also continue our focus locally, working directly with healthcare providers, social service agencies, and business leaders, to ensure protections, policies, and best practices are in place in your own workplaces and communities.

Every step of the way in fighting these discriminatory measures, we need you. In each conversation about stopping these rollbacks and moving additional protections forward, we need you. In your local communities, we need you.

If you face discrimination at your job, your home, or in a public space, contact us. You have rights, and we can help you identify and navigate those next steps.

]]> (Steph Perkins) Your Source for News on LGBT Politics and Issues in Missouri. Wed, 01 Mar 2017 11:45:43 -0600
Our Executive Director's Statement on Title IX Implementation Our Executive Director's Statement on Title IX Implementation

Last night, the Trump Administration rescinded lifesaving Title IX guidance for transgender students in public schools. While this sends a dangerous message and reinforces an idea that transgender young people are undeserving of legal protection, it does not change the fact that schools are still liable if they discriminate against transgender students. In this same week, the MO Senate Education Committee heard testimony against SB 98, a bill that would proactively restrict bathroom and locker room access for transgender students in Missouri. Regardless of the harmful message these actions send, the law still protects everyone from sex discrimination, including transgender people. And above all, we must reiterate to our communities that transgender students are still worthy, valuable, and deserving of the protection Title IX affords.

Transgender students of Missouri, we see you, we got you, and above all we will NEVER stop fighting for you.

]]> (Steph Perkins) Your Source for News on LGBT Politics and Issues in Missouri. Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:08:26 -0600
Why Join Us at Equality Day? Why Join Us at Equality Day?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

Are you ready? I know you are. There’s a feeling deep inside you that’s calling you to action like never before. That feeling is your conscious. The calling is to resist.

We are at a crucial time in our evolution as human beings. The forces of light and dark are rising up. Never forget that the light will triumph over darkness, and we will be victorious. But it is going to take each and every one of us working against these injustices committed to and by our fellow human beings. I know you are mobilizing. I know you are ready. Come use your voice at Equality Day 2017 with PROMO. Advocating for LGBT equality has never been more important than it is right now. We need your voice. Your story matters in the Missouri state legislature.

Join us on February 14, 2017 and elevate your voice with hundreds of other LGBT Missourians from across the state. Think about that. Hundreds of us. Can you feel it? Feel the power in hundreds of your LGBT MO family and allies ascending upon the Missouri State Capitol with only one action... to SHOW ME LOVE > Hate this Valentine’s Day. Please join us.

Currently, PROMO is tracking more than 14 bills that promote discrimination in our state. LGBT Missourians are not protected under the Missouri Human Rights Act. Several of these bills would undermine the Missouri Human Rights Act, creating more barriers for Missourians to prove they faced discrimination because of their race, national origin, sex, or other protected characteristics. And these same challenges would exist when we are successful at finally protecting LGBT Missourians in the Human Rights Act. Several “bathroom” bills have been filed by both members of the Senate and the House. Religious freedom bills were filed, again, as well, in an attempt to target marriage equality. We are closely monitoring the bills and will continue to keep you updated as the session progresses.

Not all of the legislation filed this session has been anti-LGBT. For the 19th year, PROMO is working with our champions to file the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA). MONA would provide protections from discrimination by including LGBT Missourians in the Missouri Human Rights Act in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Senator Jill Schupp sponsored MONA in the Senate with every single Democratic Senators co-sponsoring. PROMO is very grateful to have so many champions in the Senate. Representative Randy D. Dunn and Representative Greg Razer sponsored, and Representative Tracy McCreery co-sponsored, MONA in the House. We appreciate the support and the dedication to equality that the members of the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate provide to our community.

Taking time off work can be challenging. Rearranging the care of a child or a parent takes schedule finessing. We understand. The resistance calls us to sacrifice but to also accept our limitations. So, if you can make the schedule work, please come to Equality Day 2017. If you’re unable to come but want to support from afar, you can sponsor another attendee’s registration. We invite you to speak with Missouri elected officials. Let them know about the time you were fired because your boss found out you loved another man. Tell them about the time you were denied access to medical treatment because they didn’t serve “those people” at the hospital you visited. Use your voice as an ally who shares the belief that all citizens deserve to live life free from discrimination no matter who they love or how they identify. If you don’t tell them your story, how will they know there is a problem to solve? Your voice is a necessary vehicle to move the resistance forward.

Changing the world takes time. History shows us that with great wins come great losses. Do not stand by and accept a rollback. ‘Cause we are not going back. Closets are for clothes and boxes are for pizza! We appreciate every march, rally, and action you’ve already attended. And we appreciate your commitment to this long road we share together. PROMO is asking you to join us in making history at the Capitol on February 14, 2017 as we SHOW ME LOVE > Hate.

Who’s in?


]]> (Elizabeth Fuchs) Your Source for News on LGBT Politics and Issues in Missouri. Fri, 10 Feb 2017 14:43:24 -0600