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LGBTQ Community Speaks Out on City Council's Proposed Non-Discrimination Policy

Several people stood in front of St. Joseph city council members on Wednesday to give their opinion on a possible non-discrimination policy for the city.

Posted: May 23, 2018 11:04 PM
Updated: May 25, 2018 6:45 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Several people stood in front of St. Joseph city council members on Wednesday to give their opinion on a possible non-discrimination policy for the city.

The council has met three times in public work sessions to discuss an anti-discrimination ordinance that would include sexual orientation and gender identity.

However, St. Joseph Mayor Bill McMurray said the big issue facing the city is whether or not the policy should enforce businesses to serve all people, including LGBT individuals.

"I think hammering out this enforcement prevision, you know how much of that if any that everyone can live with, that's the next step," McMurray said.

Twelve other cities in Missouri have a non-discrimination policy. City council was looking at two models that mirror Lee's Summit and Columbia's policies. 

Currently, there is no law in Missouri that protects LGBTQ members from being fired or turned away from housing because of their sexual orientation. Though the city council received mixed reviews in adding an enforcement policy to St. Joe's possible non-discrimination ordinance.

Several businesses expressed concern that an enforcement policy could create the potential for fraudulent cases. The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce said they would not support an enforcement policy, but offered to pay $5,000 to support a Human Rights Commission that would educate companies and schools about equality.

"I will work in the business community to raise more money as necessary so that we get the word out. So that we do something," Patt Lilly, Chamber of Commerce President, said.

After three work sessions, the city did not come to an agreement. The council voted to have two members, Brian Myers and Brenda Blessing, meet with the Chamber of Commerce to discuss a negotiation in adding an enforcement policy.

The council also voted to have at least one more work session on the issue before the final proposed non-discrimination policy would be presented for a first reading at a city council meeting.

"I'm hopeful that we can do something that everyone can live with," McMurray said.

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It was a snowy and cold day across the area with 2-6 inches of snow found across northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas. Temperatures will fall into the teens and single digits overnight. Be very careful on the roads Sunday morning, slushy and wet roads will refreeze with the cold temperatures overnight. Sunshine returns on Sunday with temperatures staying right around average in the mid 30s. Dry conditions look to continue into next week. Temperatures will warm through Tuesday with highs back in the 40s before a cold front moves through mid week dropping temperatures back into the teens and 20s.
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