From August 8-11, HRC staff was in Chicago to attend the National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit. An annual conference open to state legislators of all political parties, the NCSL Legislative Summit provides an opportunity for legislators to network, share best practices, and learn about current issues impacting states. As we have for many years, HRC staff maintained a booth in the trade and vendor area where we shared information about current state laws, the Municipal Equality Index, the State Equality Index, and other resources available to help legislators who are supportive of LGBTQ equality.
On the final evening of the conference, HRC hosted an open reception for legislators and others who were in attendance during the week. This year, we chose to recognize the outstanding advocacy of the eight Senate Democrats from Missouri. In early March, in the midst of a national legislative environment that saw over 200 anti-LGBT bills introduced, the Senate Democratic Caucus staged an historic thirty-nine hour filibuster against SJR39. The Joint Resolution, were it to have passed, would have placed on the November 2016 ballot a constitutional amendment allowing people to refuse services based on religious belief. While the filibuster was ultimately unsuccessful and the bill passed the Senate, the filibuster significantly delayed movement on the bill and brought national attention to the what was happening in the Show Me State. Thankfully SJR39 died in House Committee, as did all of the other anti-LGBT bills under consideration in Missouri this cycle.
Senator Gina Walsh, Minority Leader of the Missouri Senate, was on-hand at the reception to accept the recognition on behalf of her colleagues. Thanks to lawmakers like Senator Walsh and the Missouri Senate Democrats who stand up and speak out against anti-LGBTQ efforts, only three percent of the more than 200 anti-LGBT bills introduced since January were enacted this year. We appreciate what they do, what they stand for, and their commitment to equality for all LGBTQ people in their state.
Senator Gina Walsh, Minority Leader of the Missouri Senate