America was flying the rainbow flag this summer after the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision to grant same-sex couples nationwide the right to marry. It now is illegal for individual states to ban same-sex marriage, overruling the 13 states which had not removed such bans prior to the ruling.
However, in the wake of this announcement, our nation currently faces a tension between the state and national levels of government. Though marriage equality now is established under the Supreme Court’s ruling, these couples still can be discriminated against in the workplace, marketplace and beyond because of their choice to marry their same-sex partner.
Currently 21 states, including Iowa and Illinois, have policies in place to protect citizens from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Missouri is not one of those states.
“In the state of Missouri, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can be fired from their jobs, denied housing, and refused access to public accommodations and services,” according to the PROMO — Progress Missouri — website.
PROMO is among many groups advocating to change this in our state. The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act would add a sexual orientation and gender identity clause to Missouri’s Human Rights Statute. This would prohibit employers, housing providers, businesses and other entities from denying services, terminating employment or performing other discriminatory acts against individuals because they have a same-sex partner, do not conform to traditional standards for gender identity or any other reason pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity.
We, the TMN Editorial Board, would like to advocate for this change. We think people should be treated fairly in all circumstances, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Every law-abiding citizen now has the right to marry whomever they choose, and that should not affect their right to live, spend their money and conduct business wherever they want.
We also would like to applaud the cities and municipalities within Missouri that have taken matters into their own hands in an effort to protect citizens from such discrimination. Several areas including Kirksville, St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City, Missouri, have passed measures to stop discriminatory practices.
The City of Kirksville enacted its measure during August 2013, according to the PROMO website. The measure originally failed to pass, but support from locals, including LGBT activist group Equality Kirksville and University President Troy Paino, enabled its eventual success.
Looking at this advancement for our city, it is apparent that statewide change will not come easily. Just as the Kirksville non-discrimination ordinance initially failed to pass, MONA has been prevented from passing in the state capital several times. If we want to see change happen for our fellow citizens through our state government, we will have to act. Only with a rally of support will we move closer to a world where discrimination is no longer legal, much less a common practice.