A coalition called Moral Missouri held a rally at the state capitol in Jefferson City Wednesday.
Its wide range of member organizations includes civil rights, pro-choice, faith and environmental groups as well as labor unions.
Organizer Shira Berkowitz of the Central Reform Congregation synagogue in St. Louis says the coalition emerged from the transgender bathroom law in North Carolina.
“This issue is all of our issues” said Berkowitz. “So how a bathroom issue could be an LGBT rights issue, could also be a women’s rights issue, could also be a health care issue, could also be just a human issue.”
The North Carolina law requires transgender people to only use bathrooms which correspond to the sex identified on their birth certificates. It also repealed a gay/lesbian anti-discrimination law in the city of Charlotte.
Moral Missouri has its roots in the Moral Monday movement, which was started by religious progressives in 2013. Moral Missouri was born this year.
Among its members in addition to Central Reform Congregation are the Sierra Club, the NAACP, Empower Missouri, Jobs With Justice Missouri, NARAL Pro Choice, Planned Parenthood and two labor unions.
Michael Berg with the Sierra Club says the intent of the coalition is to change the moral focus of the state.
“A lot of the politicians talk about the sanctity of life and the importance, which is great” Berg said. “But if you care about our children and you care about the sanctity of life, you have to confront climate change. You have to bring the state off of fossil fuels. And you have to be concerned about the pollutants that we’re putting in our air, ground and water.”
Jeanette Mott-Oxford of Empower Missouri said the group assembled at the state capitol rotunda to focus on topics that the legislature hasn’t concerned itself with this year such as poverty, hunger and basic human needs.
“They’ve spent too much time on what they call business friendly legislation, but instead limits damages to big, big companies, disadvantages little people and matters of discrimination, and hurts the rights of working people.”
Moral Missouri contends there have been too many harmful bills introduced in the current legislative session.
Organizer Berkowitz says the group has taken issue with Republican Governor Greitens. She thinks Greitens hasn’t lived up to his campaign pledge to govern with an understanding of all faiths.
“What’s become explicitly clear is that he has one faith that governs him. And he not as open to listening to the faiths’ of his constituency.” Berkowitz contends Greitens hasn’t governed in a transparent way.