Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Senate Advances Gay Rights Bill for First Time Ever

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Senate Advances Gay Rights Bill for First Time Ever

Article excerpt

JEFFERSON CITY * Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, didn't get her bill across the finish line Friday. But she still won a victory.

Thirty minutes before adjournment Friday, the Missouri Senate passed her bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against gays and lesbians in Missouri. The vote was 19-11.

The chamber is dominated by conservative, white, Republican men. Nine of them voted for it, joining 10 Democrats.

Justus, the Senate's first openly gay member, had teary eyes when she talked to reporters afterward.

"One of the reasons I ran was because I am a firm believer, if you don't have a seat at the table, you're probably on the menu," she said. "I think today had a lot to do with the friendships I've made."

Though the bill was rushed across the Rotunda in time for the House to take it up, House leaders let it die. They used their spare time five minutes preceding the mandatory 6 p.m. adjournment for announcements.

This is Justus' seventh year in the Senate and the seventh time she has filed the bill.

"Right now you can be fired in Missouri if you're gay," said Justus, an attorney. "You can be kicked out of your housing or any public accommodation because you're bisexual or transgender, or even because you're perceived as being LGBT. …

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