Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Richmond Heights Approves Protections for LGBT Community

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 11:55 AM

click to enlarge Observed flying over Richmond Heights' City Hall today. (Not really.)
  • Observed flying over Richmond Heights' City Hall today. (Not really.)
The Richmond Height City Council last night approved an ordinance providing discrimination protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered residents. The measure passed by a vote of 6-2, making Richmond Heights the fifth city in the region to offer such protection. St. Louis, Clayton, Olivette and University City have similar ordinances.

"We're a pretty diverse community," says Mayor James Beck. "The council felt this was something we needed to do, and I think that reflects the views of most residents,"

Beck notes that all four people from the public who spoke at last night's meeting about the bill favored the legislation. 

A.J. Bockelman, executive director of the advocacy group PROMO, tells Daily RFT that the legislation his organization helped spearhead provides protection for issues regarding housing, employment and public accommodations. The latter ensures the LGBT community equal access to places like hotels, restaurants, parks and rec clubs.

Momentum for the Richmond Height ordinance follows the passage last summer of a domestic partner registry in University City, allowing same-sex couples some of the benefits afforded heterosexual couples.

"We had a lot of people come to us following passage of the U. City law wanting to know how their communities could benefit from LGBT protections," says Bockelman. "Our database shows a large number of LGBT households in the central corridor of St. Louis, including Richmond Heights, so we felt it was worthwhile to pursue it there."

Bockelman says the Richmond Heights law mirrors a bill PROMO has introduced each year in Jefferson City since 2000 that would provide add sexual orientation to Missouri's human rights statute. The bill has had one floor vote in the past dozen years.

Council members Michael Jones and Edward Notter voted against the Richmond Heights' bill. Council member Connie Williams was not in attendance and could not vote.

The bill becomes law next month. View BB 5341 in its entirety.

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