St. Louis County Council Updates Non-Discrimination Ordinance To Include LGBT Persons | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Council Updates Non-Discrimination Ordinance To Include LGBT Persons

Nov 27, 2012

More than 90 people signed up to deliver public testimony on updates to the St. Louis County non-discrimination ordinance.
Credit Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Michelle Smith is transgender.

She came out early Tuesday night and was the first of 92 people who signed up to give public testimony. 

She had a steadfast delivery for the first part of her comments in favor of the ordinance.  Then Smith started thinking about her friends and her voice got a little shaky.

“I know a lot of transgender people who are scared every time they go to their job, I have a transgender friend who was fired,” Smith said.    

After two hours of public comments, the updated non-discrimination ordinance that includes beefed up projections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in the workplace passed by vote of four to three.

Most of speakers after Smith testified against the ordinance, many said it would violate their religious beliefs.

Republican State Senator Jim Lembke also testified, and said the changes are unconstitutional.

“What I tried to stress, again, is that our constitution is very clear that those in authority cannot use their power coerce us against our right of conscious and religious freedom,” Lembke said.

Lembke said he wasn’t sure if he would be involved in a legal challenge to the ordinance, but added he wouldn’t be surprised it ended up the courts. 

Lembke lost his bid for re-election to Democratic candidate Scott Sifton earlier this month.  

The updates to the ordinance will impact unincorporated parts of the county.

Proponents of the updated ordinance say it closes loopholes that allowed for LGBT citizens to be discriminated against in the workplace, housing and public accommodation.     

Follow Tim Llloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd