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Missouri lawmakers, history group advocate for return of LGBTQ display to Capitol

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The LGBTQ history exhibit that was controversially relocated from the Missouri Capitol to the Lohman Building by the Amtrak station is receiving widespread support and calls for it to be moved back. 

House Minority Floor Leader Crystal Quade sent a letter to Department of Natural Resources Director Dru Buntin — who was appointed to the position last month — accusing the department and governor of having “fabricated a statutory approval process.” 

“But here is where that lie traps you and the governor: If you stick to your story that the LGBTQ exhibit had to come down because the Board of Public Buildings didn’t approve it, then to be consistent you must immediately remove all exhibits the board hasn’t approved,” Quade wrote. “Since this is a function the board has never performed, that means stripping the Missouri State Museum bare. Failure to do so otherwise would be a tacit admission that you and the governor have caved to homophobia and engaged in content-based discrimination — the very thing your lie was intended to avoid.”

The Governor’s Office said the display was removed because it had not been approved by the Board of Public Buildings, and the governor had not been aware of it before receiving several complaints. However, it appears other exhibits never got pre-approval from that board in years past either. 

Sen. Greg Razer, the only openly gay member of the upper chamber, has led the charge for answers following the display’s removal last week. 

“I have heard from people who work for public entities that they’ve been asked to lay low and not engage in discussion related to the ‘Making History’ exhibit because of fear of political blowback and/or state funding cuts to their organization,” Razer said on social media Wednesday. “That’s heartbreaking.” 

Additionally, the National Council on Public History published an open letter Wednesday urging the state to quickly reinstate the 12-panel exhibit in the Capitol. 

“Movements for equal rights are for that reason also movements for the equal right to document, share, and exhibit previously marginalized histories,” the letter said. “For LGBTQ Americans, the struggle for equality and voice continues and, as the removal of Making History from the Missouri State Museum shows, so does the struggle to make LGBTQ history visible in the face of censorship.”

The “Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights” traveling exhibit was supposed to be up in the Capitol museum from Aug. 27-Dec. 26 but was removed on Sept. 1, according to a social media post. 

The display is now on the upper floor of the Lohman Building in a room where conferences are generally held.