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US Supreme Court’s landmark LGBT rights decision renews calls for MONA in Missouri

Missouri’s Democratic leadership is applauding Monday’s landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to expand anti-discrimination laws — while hoping it sets a precedent for Missouri law as well.

The decision concerned Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and sex. The court ruled that the concept of sex is directly connected to sexual orientation and gender identity, meaning that those factors are protected under the act. 

“Discrimination against the LGBT community has always been wrong,” said Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade in a statement. “With today’s ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledges that it also violates federal law. For everyone who cherishes fairness, equality and treating people with dignity, this is a cause for great celebration.”

Quade further expressed her hope that Missouri will take the decision as a precedent for passing the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA).

MONA would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Missouri’s Human Rights Act, which currently prohibits discrimination in the same categories as the Civil Rights Act. The act would prohibit discrimination in the workplace as well as in housing regarding sexual orientation or gender identity. MONA has been a contentious issue, having first been introduced in Missouri’s legislature in 1998 and spending time in both chambers over the past two decades without ever making to the governor’s desk. 

“Today’s landmark ruling is an enormous win for equality and fairness for LGBTQ+ Missourians,” State Auditor Nicole Galloway said in a statement. “But while today is an important step, we have so much further to go in this fight. Our legislature has failed to pass the Missouri Non-Discrimination Act, meaning LGBTQ+ Missourians can still face discrimination in their everyday lives like housing and in public places like restaurants, stores, schools, nursing homes, and even public transportation.”

State Sen. Brian Williams sponsored MONA legislation in the upper chamber this year, but with COVID-19 interrupting this year’s session, his bill was one of the many that failed to pass the finish line. 

“With the legislative session having some COVID-related delays, I’m very happy with today’s ruling,” Williams told The Missouri Times. “I’ll continue to work to get this across the finish line. I’m hoping the state honors the Supreme Court’s ruling in Missouri.” 

“The bill was to ensure Missouri doesn’t have any discriminatory practices in the workplace [and] ensuring folks who identify with a certain gender has access to all facilities,” Williams continued. “What we’ve seen with policing lately, we do have discriminatory practices embedded in our systems that impact our day-to-day lifestyle. If we pass MONA, it ensures the state embraces everyone.”

The Supreme Court’s decision comes days after President Donald Trump announced the reversal of an Obama-era rule that eliminated LGBTQ+ discrimination in health care and insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Today’s ruling saw a vote of 6-3, with Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, writing the opinion. 

Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.

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