City Council Discusses Non-Discrimination Policy

The St. Joseph city council has discussed options for implementing a non-discrimination policy for the city.

Posted: May 22, 2018 10:57 PM
Updated: May 22, 2018 11:01 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The St. Joseph city council has discussed options for implementing a non-discrimination policy for the city.

In Missouri, discrimination against the LGBTQ community is not against the law. Meaning local cities have to pass their own policy to make it illegal to do something like fire an individual solely based on their sexual orientation.

"Why would somebody who got fired for being gay come out and say 'I got fired for being gay.' Every time I hear somebody say 'oh you need to sue', I have to tell them you can't sue. It's not against the law," Daniel Ramming, Midland Empire Equality Coalition, said.

Currently, 12 cities in Missouri have a non-discrimination policy in place. In the near future, St. Joseph could become number 13.

"One thing we can do here in St. Joseph is our own personal manual needs to have its own non-discrimination policy updates," Mayor Bill McMurray, St. Joseph, said. "We need to lead by example."

The city council will look at two non-discrimination policies being used in Lee's Summit and Columbia, which advocates say if implemented here, would help protect rights.

"It's not fair for somebody to not be rented a house because there's two women's names on the lease. It's not fair to fire someone just because they get married to someone you don't like," Ramming said.

However, activists like Rammings said there's still a few problems with both models.

Ramming said the Lee's Summit model would still not protect someone from being fired based on sexual orientation, saying it would only propose a commission to educate schools and businesses about equality.

In the Columbia model, it would establish protections for the LGBTQ community, create a commission to educate schools and businesses and there would still be religious exemptions.

"We're not trying to force people to change what they believe," Ramming said. "If you go into a business where you are providing accommodations for the public - like a hotel or a restaurant - you have to serve everybody."

McMurray said there's an argument to be made both for the ordinance, and against it.

"I agree that we don't want to discriminate against anyone. On the other hand, there has to be a middle ground somewhere where we don't add another regulatory burden to business, and it's not just business it's public accommodation, it's employment, it's housing," McMurray said.

The council has already met twice for public work sessions to discuss the proposed policies. The next public meeting will be Wednesday at 4 p.m. in City Hall.

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