St. Louis County Approves Protections for LGBT Residents

Equality plows forward.
Equality plows forward.
By a vote of 4-3 the St. Louis County Council last night approved adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its non-discrimination ordinance.

The measure makes it illegal to fire an employee based on his or her sexuality as well as deny members of the LGBT community from housing and use of public spaces.

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"My vote stands for the proposition that employment, housing and public accommodations decisions should be based on a person's qualifications, not sexual orientation or gender identity," said Councilman Steve Stenger in casting his vote in support of the Bill 279. "History shows us that inclusive communities are successful communities where all citizens can share in economic opportunities and where all citizens have the opportunity to reciprocate."

St. Louis County is the ninth and largest area government to extend a non-discrimination clause to gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals and transgendered. The others are St. Louis, Richmond Heights, Olivette, Clayton, University City, Maplewood, Creve Coeur and Ferguson.

"We know that the LGBT community has always been a part of this region's growing economic diversity, and we are thankful that the County Council has chosen this evening to protect all of its citizens regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity," said A.J. Bockelman, executive director for PROMO, following last night's vote. Bockelman's LGBT advocacy organization has been a major driver in educating and encouraging municipal governments to add an LGBT non-discrimination clause absent a statewide law.

The ordinance passed last night affects an estimated 321,000 residents living in unincorporated parts of the county.
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