JEFFERSON CITy, Mo. -- Missouri’s legislative session began, Jan. 3, with four anti-LGBT bills pre-filed in December. Three pro-equality bills have also been pre-filed - all versions of the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Missouri Human Rights Statute.
 

The language of the two anti-transgender bills include restricting public restroom or school restroom use by transgender individuals. These bills are SB 690 sponsored by Sen. Ed. Emery (R-Lamar) and HB 1755 sponsored by Rep. Jeff Pogue (R-Salem). Similar versions of these same bills were filed by the same legislators for the past two years.

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There are two bills focusing on religious exemptions and marriage.

HB 1763, also sponsored by Rep. Pogue, would allow a person authorized to solemnize marriages to refuse to solemnize a marriage which is contrary to the religious beliefs or sincerely held moral convictions of such person.

HB 1434, sponsored by Rep. T.J. Berry (R-Kearney), would change  the laws regarding marriage and replaces marriage licenses with contracts of domestic union.

This is following a year in which SB 98 (identical to SB 690) had a hearing in which dozens of people testified against the bill successfully stopping it from passage. More than 30 anti-LGBT bills in the past three years have been defeated in The Show Me State. PROMO, Missouri's statewide LGBT advocacy organization, will once again actively work to fight similar legislation in 2018.

 

“We anticipate an increase in anti-LGBT bills in 2018, but PROMO is ready," Steph Perkins, Executive Director of PROMO, told #Boom last month. "Instead of targeting LGBT Missourians, elected officials should look for ways to expand opportunity, protect people of all ages, and make our state even better for all people — including those who are LGBT.”


The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act has once again been in both chambers of the General Assembly. The legislation would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Missouri’s Human Rights Act, which currently prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations for other protected categories, including race, sex, and national origin. The three versions filed this year as of this writing are HB 1360, sponsored by out Rep.Tom Hannegan (R-St. Charles); SB 753, sponsored by Sen. Jill Schupp (D-St. Louis County);  and HB 1782, sponsored by Rep. Brandon Ellington (D-Kansas City).

 

2018 marks the 20th time MONA has been filed in the Missouri House and Senate. The legislation was first introduced by Rep. Steve McLuckie (D-Kansas City) in 1998.

“It’s unfortunate and often heartbreaking to see progress for LGBT equality being rolled back at the federal level, but Missouri does not have to do the same," said Perkins. "PROMO will be in the Capitol working on both sides of the aisle to ensure our state moves forward in including and protecting LGBT equality for all Missourians. That includes being protected in our workplaces, in schools, and in healthcare.”

 

Also expected this session is a bill to be sponsored by Rep. Tracy McCreery (D-Olivette) which would prohibit licensed professionals from trying to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.


"Other states have done it and it's time for Missouri to step up and protect its vulnerable young people," said McCreery of the legislation at last month's Metro Trans Umbrella Group telethon.


According to PROMO, nine states, including Illinois in 2015, have banned so-called "conversion therapy" for minors in some form. Nearly all states have or will introduce bills to ban the practice for minors in some form in 2018.

 

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