House committee to hear nondiscrimination bill this week

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri House Civil and Criminal Proceedings Committee is set to hear House Bill 407 this Wednesday at noon.

The bill sponsored by 46th District U.S. Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, will, "change the laws regarding complaints filed with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights regarding discrimination based upon a person's sexual orientation or gender identity."

The bill is more commonly known as the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, or MONA. If passed, MONA would include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied people to the existing Missouri Human Rights Statute.

This act would prevent LGBT people of Missouri from being fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes or denied public accommodations based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Progress Missouri Executive Director Sean Soendker Nicholson said he is optimistic about the bill passing this week.

"The Senate passed out their own version of the Nondiscrimination Act on Wednesday of last week which is really great to see," Soendker Nicholson said. "There has been bi-partisan support in both the House and the Senate in previous years for very similar bills."

Progress Missouri has been working with PROMO, a statewide organization advocating for the LGBT community of Missouri, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri to get the Nondiscrimination Act passed.

"We have done everything from lift up the stories of Missourians who have lost their jobs or have been discriminated against in other ways, to working directly with partner organizations to amplify their advocacy," Soendker Nicholson said.

If MONA passes, the new protections that outlaw discrimination would take effect in late August of this year.