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Sexual Orientation Protection Up for Debate in MO Senate

February 23, 2009

St. Louis, MO - There's no legal recourse for Missourians who believe they've been denied work or housing based on sexual orientation - but that could soon change. A hearing will be held Wednesday on State Senate Bill 109, the Missouri Non-Discrimination Act (MONA), which would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens from bias in employment, housing and public accommodation.

The executive director of Faith Aloud, Rev. Rebecca Turner, says that in this day and age no one should face discrimination.

"In Missouri a person can lose his or her job or home just because of his or her perceived sexual orientation. And it is simply unjust."

Rev. Turner says the measure is important to ensure understanding and acceptance of the differences in all people.

"Even when we disagree with someone else's way of life, that doesn't mean they don't deserve the same basic rights. And so we need to fully make sure that everyone is treated equally."

Rev. Turner says this is not a religious issue, but a civil rights issue, and there are many clergy and people of faith in Missouri who support the proposal.

She says sexual orientation has nothing to do with a person's qualifications for buying a home or doing a job well.

"Very often people are looking at someone and saying, 'Yeah, I don't like what I see here,' and they are being denied those basic rights."

At least 13 states and 100 cities, including St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia in Missouri, already have similar laws in place. Some opponents of the measure say it would create another protected class of citizens and lead to an increase in dubious discrimination lawsuits.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MO