ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has traveled to every Show Me State county over the past year in his effort to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. The Democratic hopeful has long been a supporter of LGBT equality in both the Missouri General Assembly and in statewide office. Over the past two weeks, during campaign stops in St. Louis, Kander further demonstrated his support by attending the St. Louis Human Rights Campaign Gala, meeting with members of the Metro Trans Umbrella Group at Left Bank Books, and sitting down for an exclusive interview on LGBT issues with #Boom Media.

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#Boom chatted with Kander after he opened the Missouri Democratic Party's Field Office on Cherokee on Sept. 24 to talk LGBT non-discrimination, "religious freedom" laws, transgender rights, and yes, Kander and Ebb.


Colin Murphy: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. We've seen you at PrideFest; we know you're an LGBT ally; I'd like to start by asking when did you first become aware of LGBT issues?


Jason Kander: When I was six years old. When I was six years old most of my family had to explain to me why my uncles couldn't get married, and that didn't seem right to me. I didn't have to evolve on the issue. From the age of six that just seemed to me a basic injustice and inequality.


CM: It's often been said that if you personally know someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender your world view changes.


JK: Sure. That's absolutely right.


CM: Let's talk about some legislation. Obviously you can be legally in married in the United States but legally fired for being LGBT in some 16 states the next day. You will support the Federal Equality Act?

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JK: Oh yea, absolutely. I was a co-sponsor of the Missouri Non-discrimination Act [MONA] when I was in the legislature. Also as secretary of state I wanted to lead on the issue so we changed our employment policies to reflect doing the same things that would have been in the nondiscrimination act had it passed. So yeah, absolutely. My son is three years old and I always want to be able to look him in the eye and tell him that I was on the right side of history.


CM: Another legislative trend post-marriage equality are all of the "religious freedom" laws being introduced around the country. We defeated SJR39 this year in Missouri. Do you think that we need a federal law banning discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodation based on religious beliefs or should it play out state by state?


JK: I just think the non-discrimination act in Missouri is a good model. In general, I just don't believe we should make discrimination currently legal. I also believe we should make discrimination illegal and I believe that's the direction we ought to go.

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CM: Another piece of legislation we've seen introduced in Missouri and across the country revolves around public accommodations for transgender individuals. What are your thoughts on addressing these so-called "bathroom bills"?

 

JK: I believe in equality for all Missourians. I just believe in equality for all Missourians, including this. You look at the way this issue has been approached by Sen. Blunt - if he wants to, for instance, discriminate against people's kids that's his prerogative. I don't believe in discriminating against other people's kids.


CM: We defeated 16 anti-LGBT bills in Jefferson City this year and the average voter might look at that and say, well, there were 16 bills - Missourians must be talking about this at their kitchen table - it must be really important. As you travel around the state are you hearing this?


JK: No. I've been to every country in the state the past year and when folks bring up the issue of equality to me they are bringing it up because they want more equality. They're just interested in seeing everybody treated equal.


CM: Last question - you mentioned your great uncle [Broadway composer John Kander] - what's your favorite Kander and Ebb song and why?


JK: There's a song called - it's a little bit lesser known - but there's a song called "A Quiet Thing." The song is about when you work hard and you reach your goal, whether it's changing your community or whatever it is; it doesn't all happen with lights and fanfare. It's the quiet satisfaction of doing something important and I've just always really liked that song. But probably because at a very young age my mom told me it was her favorite song.

 

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