As the mother of a gay child who lost his life as a result of homophobia, I cannot stress this enough: homophobia kills. When the state endorses homophobia, more people die, whether by their own hand or by that of others. I don’t want your sympathy or condolences. I have no interest in policing beliefs, I just want Missouri legislators to do right by all of Missouri’s children, even the ones their religion doesn’t approve of. I want them to treat all children with compassion and justice. LGBTQ people are a targeted minority group by Christian sects here in the United States, and after last week, Missouri LGBTQ citizens need protection from the very religion Missouri House Republicans have claimed as their own.


Missourians watched with envy last Tuesday as Kansas restored LGBTQ protections in Topeka. Kansas’ new Governor Laura Kelly provided LGBTQ staff with security from discrimination by restoring protections removed by the Brownback regime. Then we watched our own House Republicans reject a similar resolution from State Rep. Greg Razer (D - Kansas City), one of Missouri’s few openly gay legislators. They voted overwhelmingly to allow themselves to dismiss capitol staff for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. In attacking Razer’s House Resolution 7 (HR7), they perverted the concept of religious freedom to attack the lives and livelihoods of others.


Upon learning of the vote, I recalled an incident from approximately 4 years ago, when Republican House freshmen catered lunch to the opening session, offering none other than Chick-Fil-A, a notorious bastion of religiously fueled bigotry. A joke, they said. Though their office demands professional decorum, Missouri House Republican members engaged in anti-LGBTQ humor. This sophomoric “prank” of workplace homophobia showed why Rep. Razer’s resolution was needed in the first place.


State Rep. Curtis D. Trent (R - Springfield) raised concerns that protections for LGBTQ House staffers could infringe on religious liberty. How would the presence of LGBTQ staffers prevent anyone from practicing their religion? Whether Rep. Trent knows it or not, gay Missourians are around him all the time – yet he and his ilk remain unmolested and haven’t been turned gay or sent to Hell. His protestations are a confession that his religion demands the oppression of the innocent.


Funded by wealthy special interests, House Republicans exploit the credulity of the faithful for their own ends, just like they do other natural resources. The very first line of the Establishment Clause says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Our House Republicans have done just that by using their religious ideology to impose the strictures of their own religious beliefs on those who do not share them. They yearn to officiate in a severe and authoritarian theocracy, using the power of the state.


What type of message did Missouri House Republicans send our LGBTQ youth with their rejection of HR7? Though never tiring of outrage at the demise of zygotes, Missouri Republicans have been largely indifferent to the issues facing its young LGBTQ citizens, in despair from being bullied by their peers, abandoned by their parents, denied employment by bigots, with the rates of LGBTQ youth suicide and homelessness being disproportionate to that of non-LGBTQ youth. Some religious leaders have called for the death of LGBTQ people or cheered their murders. Perhaps Missouri Republicans regard their deaths as an appropriate solution, and joyfully envision my child burning in Hell. I can’t imagine what Rep. Razer must have felt, during this act of dehumanization in the very place designed to protect citizens from such abuses, when the Missouri government failed to protect even one of their own.


With the resolution itself possibly beyond procedural redress at this point, votes on HR7 would speak for themselves... if we could see them in print. With the questionable voice voting system used instead of a recorded rollcall, and without video or audio, there is no transparency. Except for the privileged, it is difficult for citizens to attend government functions in person. It’s 2019, let us hope the capitol manages to get their live-streaming technological issues sorted soon so constituents from all walks of life can witness what transpires on their behalves. Or at least provide pre-recordings. Without transparency, there can be no accountability.


Statecraft is like medicine. The first rule is to do no harm. The second is to rely not on superstition but on evidence. Where is the evidence that Rep. Trent’s deity even exists, much less that he demands the sacrifice of those who do not meet Rep. Trent’s approval? If God is so determined to exclude LGBTQ staffers from employment, let Him give testimony in committee. Until House Republicans can produce their God, there is no evidence in defense of discrimination.


Missouri House Democrats: your colleague Rep. Razer is a remarkable fellow, a respectable and inspiring humanitarian and I appreciate your favorable votes on HR7. However, if you will not speak for your own teammate now, after the vote… would you also not speak for my deceased gay son, or our growing number of LGBTQ youth? This is the Show Me State. So, show me you care. As long as Republicans make it clear that liberty and justice are only for people that adhere to their personal religious ideology, take a knee during the Pledge or abstain from the House prayer. How can you ethically participate in these protected acts, while your own teammate is left a marginalized target without equal and obviously needed protections? The Republicans drew their line in the sand on only Day Four. It’s time to draw yours. Take a knee, walk out, stay sitting in protest, but protest you must. Our children need your protection.


After voting in favor of religious LGBTQ discrimination in their workplace, Missouri Republicans rounded out the week by celebrating Martin Luther King Day and defending U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (R- Salem) after he shouted a racist slur on the House floor, stating Latinx Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) should “go back to Puerto Rico." I would place something thoughtful or even glib here, but I seem to have run out of words.


Nikki Moungo is an activist, skeptic, and entrepreneur living in Ballwin, Missouri with her family.