LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Discrimination protection should extend to everyone

Monday, March 18, 2013 | 2:46 p.m. CDT; updated 9:22 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 18, 2013

Discrimination is, by definition, unfair treatment. Here in Missouri, we have established a set of laws called the Missouri Human Rights Act to prevent discrimination in housing, the workplace and places of public accommodation. However, protections provided under this act do not extend to all of our citizens. We must also ensure that people cannot be fired or denied a place to live based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. To do so, we need to add these protections to Missouri’s non-discrimination policy. Missourians for Equality is attempting to make this happen.

A nonpartisan grass-roots organization made up of an amazing group of dedicated young activists, Missourians for Equality is working to prevent this discrimination by putting the issue on the ballot in the November 2014 election. By working toward this policy change through the ballot initiative process, we can give the people of Missouri the chance to stand up for justice and equality where many of the politicians in Jefferson City have failed to do so. I fully support this effort.

The time is right for this change to happen. Cities and counties around the state have taken matters in their own hands and passed ordinances to prevent discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity. Gov. Jay Nixon has extended this protection to employees of the state executive branch. Missourians all across the state deserve equal treatment.

I encourage everyone to sign the petition to help put this issue to a vote of the people. Getting to the ballot is the hard part. Missourians are ready to pass this measure. I know that once we ask the voters to decide, they will vote for equality.

Susan Montee is the former chair of the Missouri Democratic Party.

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