Kirksville becomes latest Missouri community to expand anti-discrimination protections
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 20, 2013 - Kirksville – home of Truman State University – has become the latest community in Missouri to adopt an ordinance that expands anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Kirksville now is the 14th community in the state to do so, according to PROMO, a St. Louis-based statewide advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.
The Kirksville City Council voted 3-2 Monday night to expand the protections, in effect reversing a July 1 rejection of the idea. The vote came after more than an hour of debate. Testimony came from both passionate supporters and opponents, attendees said.
According to PROMO, the supporters were: Mayor Richard Detweiler (who had voted against the proposal in July), Councilman Jerry Mills and Councilman Glen Moritz.
Supporters addressing the council included Truman State University president Troy Paino.
The proposal approved Monday reflected some changes from the initial one in July, including the creation of a human rights officer, “rather than the nine-person Human Rights Commission, with a significantly limited role,” PROMO said in a statement.
Also, the city opted to exempt religious entities for those employers with five or fewer employees, keeping it in line with state exemptions.
A.J. Bockelman, PROMO’s executive director, said in a statement, "We know from experience these battles are hard fought, but time after time, we know that justice and equality prevail.”
Webster Groves next
Next up is Webster Groves, where the council will meet Tuesday night.
PROMO has announced that it wants to persuade Webster Groves to go beyond its earlier approval of a measure expanding anti-discrimination protections only for housing, when it comes to the LGBT community.
Activists want to include protections for employment and public accommodations as well.
Most of the 14 communities in the state approving the broader list of protections are in the St. Louis area.