Kirkwood becomes the 11th community in the region to expand anti-discrimination protections
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Kirkwood City Council has voted unanimously to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its existing nondiscrimination policy, making Kirkwood the 10th municipality in St. Louis County – and the 11th in the region – to do so.
Kirkwood’s action comes just weeks after the St. Louis County Council approved a similar measure. The city of St. Louis also has a similar ordinance, as does Kansas City, neighboring Jackson County, and the city of Columbia, Mo.
Kirkwood’s provision will affect its 27,000 residents. The council’s action came amid support from Mayor Art McDonnell, Kirkwood Gay/Straight Alliance, the Community for Understanding Hope and some local clergy.
The proposal was first introduced by the Kirkwood Human Rights Commission. Said President Darnel Frost in a statement, “These protections are needed because it insures that no matter who you are, in Kirkwood you will have rights and protections. It insures that Kirkwood will be a welcoming community for ‘all.’ It also states that we value the rights of each and every member of our community.”
Critics contended that the new ordinance violates the state constitution.
AJ Bockelman, executive director of PROMO – the region’s most prominent advocacy group for the LGBT community – praised the council’s unanimous action.
“As we advance nondiscrimination by city, county and throughout the state of Missouri, we know that more places like Kirkwood will become a more inclusive, supportive community,” Bockelman said. “Even conservative areas like Kirkwood realize discrimination against the LGBT community is plain wrong and are working to do something about it by taking actions such as the City Council did tonight."
Other county communities who have approved similar ordinances include: Maplewood, University City, Olivette, Clayton, Richmond Heights, Creve Coeur and Ferguson.