Senator Joe Keaveny (D-St. Louis) wants to stop discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. He’s sponsoring what supporters call the “Missouri Non-Discrimination Act”, which would ban discrimination for things like housing, access to public accommodations and in the workplace.
“Nationally, the tide is turning on the Non-Discrimination Act,” said Keaveny. “It really doesn’t create any new protections, it just extends its existing protections for a significant portion of our population.
A 2013 poll says 71% of Missouri small business owners support this type of measure.
“There were over 500 businesses throughout the state that signed onto a petition that said they were in favor of the bill,” said Keaveny. “Through polling, the majority of the population feels we shouldn’t blatantly discriminate against people. I think nationally, the rhetoric isn’t so harsh against it. Which is why I decided to file the bill again.”
The proposal passed in the Senate on the final day of the 2013 session.
Supporters say in Missouri, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals can be fired, evicted and denied access to public accommodations and services.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Missouri have opposed similar legislation, saying it would create a new legally protected class and lead to more lawsuits against businesses.
The Springfield City Council voted in 2014 to extend a law preventing LGBT individuals from being discriminated against in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations. Earlier this year, Springfield voters repealed that ordinance.