LGBT group fights for nondiscrimination act

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's statewide LGBT advocacy organization, PROMO, held an equality day at the Capitol Tuesday to promote the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA).

In Missouri, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and denied access to public accommodations and services, according to the website of Missouri Workplace Equality.

PROMO is working with businesses to pass MONA, which would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. MONA would extend the existing Missouri Human Rights Statute to include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and allied people.

Several lawmakers were at the PROMO rally to show their support for MONA.

Others, including Sen. Ed Emery, R-Vernon County, oppose the measure.

"I do not support MONA," he said.

PROMO representative Kirstin Palovich said, "This has been a battle in Missouri since 1998." 

The equality rally Tuesday features two major components: to promote and lobby local businesses and legislators to pass MONA and to stop Senate Bill 916, sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer's, R-Town and Country. It would grant businesses more religious exemptions.

Palovich said, "Even though it doesn't directly target the LGBT, it would allow employers to discriminate against potential employees if they, or what they believed in, clashed with an employer's religious beliefs."

MONA has gone through Senate committee review and will be heard on the Senate floor. In the House, MONA is awaiting referral to a committee.

22 states currently have state-wide protections like those in MONA.

Palovich said she hopes to make Missouri number 23.