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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.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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