Last week, the Senate Committee on Progress and Development heard the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA). The bill, if passed, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Missouri Human Rights Statute.
Senator Jolie Justus, who sponsored the bill, continues to champion LGBT equality in Missouri. Senator Justus is the first openly gay Missouri state senator and third openly gay elected official in the state.
Senator Justus practices law in Kansas City, but she grew up in a small town in southwest Missouri. Over the years, I’ve heard her speak about growing up in Branson, and her background certainly serves her well in dealing with legislators across the state. She’s an example to young gay people across the state, making time for them when they visit her at the capitol and fighting for them on the floor on the Senate. Senator Justus is also known as one of the great negotiators. She sees the bigger picture, and she’s willing to do what it takes to make progress.
After the hearing last week, we hung around while the Senator did a few interviews, and I found that I felt a bit defensive when I heard a reporter respectfully ask if she had experienced discrimination in employment, accommodation or housing. Initially I felt I had witnessed an intrusion—a question too personal. As the Senator graciously answered the question—no, she had not, but she hears of such cases on a regular basis—I realized that she is doing the work that only someone in her position can do. She has been open with her experiences, she has been honest with her public self, and she has made a difference.
HRC is proud to support the work of Senator Justus and our other allies in Missouri to pass the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA). For more information on MONA, visit www.MOworkplaceequality.com.
Pictured in this photo: Kellie Freeman Rohrbaugh-HRC Field, Senator Jolie Justus-Kansas City, AJ Bockelman-Executive Director PROMO