A bill aiming to keep people from being fired over their sexual preference finds a new sponsor in the state Senate.

Senator Joe Keaveny (Courtesy; Missouri Senate)

Senator Joe Keaveny (Courtesy; Missouri Senate)

The Missouri Non-Discrimination Act, as its been called, would add lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender to Missouri’s existing law preventing workplace discrimination. It’s been offered since 1998.  This year Senate minority leader Joe Keaveny (D-St. Louis) will for the first time be its primary sponsor.

He says he’s optimistic.

“We did pass it in the Senate in 2013 on the last day of session. It got over to the House and was never taken up,” said Keaveny. “I think the environment is ripe to at least have a discussion about it.”

“The environment” Keaveny refers to is the recent series of rulings regarding same-sex marriage in Missouri and other states, rulings regarding benefits for same-sex spouses in Missouri, and other instances that have drawn attention to LGBT issues.

He says that could impact how some Republican senators who voted for the act in 2013, vote on it now.

“It could make it tough on some of them, but it could also make it easier on some of them,” Keaveny told Missourinet. “It’s harder to defend a staunch opposition to it when ruling after ruling is in support of gay marriage.”

Nine Republican senators voted for the bill in 2013.

One of the opponents of the bill is the Missouri Chamber, who says it would lead to more lawsuits against businesses. Keaveny doesn’t dispute that.

“Yes it does create another cause of action. There’s no denying that, but it’s a justified cause,” said Keaveny. “Why would a business and why would we allow a business to discriminate against an employee for only his sexual preference?”

More than 500 businesses supported the proposal in 2014.