Mo. Senate panel considers gay discrimination bill

Apr 10, 2014

Senate floor at the Missouri Capitol
Credit File / KBIA

Missouri lawmakers are hearing the pros and cons of whether it makes good business sense to grant discrimination protections based on sexual orientation.

A Senate committee heard public testimony Wednesday on legislation adding "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to a list of outlawed reasons for discrimination that already includes such characteristics as race, religion and disabilities.

Supporters included lobbyists for Monsanto and several Democratic officeholders, who said such policies can help businesses attract the best-qualified employees.

Opponents included lobbyists for two of Missouri's leading business associations, as well as Catholic and Baptist organizations. They said the legislation could subject businesses to a new flurry of lawsuits that may lack merit.

Sen. Jolie Justus says she hopes to amend her proposal to other bills before the session ends in mid-May.