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Are City-Based Gay Rights Protections Needed?

Kirkwood is the latest to consider protections for the LGBT community, just days after St. Louis County approved similar measures. Is it redundant or needed on the local level?

Kirkwood is the latest St. Louis-area municipality to consider an ordinance that would protect residents from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Last week, the city council gave preliminary approval to the measure. If approved, Kirkwood would become the 11th municipality in Missouri to approve similar measures. And just a few weeks ago, the county itself passed gay-rights legislation that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals from discrimination in unincorporated areas.

The municipalities that have such measures include the first community to do so, University City, which did so in 2003. Then Olivette did so. The Riverfront Times reports that the 10 municipalities in Missouri also include: St. Louis, Kansas City, Richmond Heights, Maplewood, Ferguson, Clayton, Columbia and Creve Coeur.

A Kirkwood resident read this letter in an earlier meeting on the subject: "I have had more than one experience of being afraid in Kirkwood, because there aren't the protections for me, or for my partner, or for our gay friends," wrote Maggie Duwe, vice-chair of the Human Rights Commission. "But even more than the specific times of feeling afraid, it's about feeling the possibility of danger, the possibility of being made to leave somewhere, anywhere, at any time, by anyone or of being told that someone won't sell us a house, only because of who I love."

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's report on the hearing last week, opponents wondered whether this was redundant. Don't state and federal laws already protect against this sort of discrimination? Are these municipal ordinances needed?

The Post-Dispatch quoted resident David Geger: "I don’t see the need for any further rights for a special group."

What do you think? Are these local ordinances needed to protect all residents of our communities from discrimination? Are they duplicative? Does it matter?

Dan Johnson January 06, 2013 at 07:23 PM
I appreciate your stated intent of "live and let live" and that you don't desire to "hurt them". Yet denial of equal treatment under the law does in fact cause harm, and cannot qualify as "live and let live". Only treating others as you would yourself under the law qualifies. While you have a choice of entertainment, you may not always have a choice of your doctor, EMT, waiter, chef, or the many other gay people with whom you come in contact, yet most of the time, you don't realize you are being helped by a gay person.
Dan Johnson January 06, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Ironically, much of the research showing orientation is not a choice, comes from efforts to change it. Not only have such efforts shown efforts to change orientation are not successful, but that they are often harmful to the point of self destructive behavior including suicide. "Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation," said Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, chair of the task force. "Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions." Glassgold added: "At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex." (APA)
Dan Johnson January 06, 2013 at 07:56 PM
As you know from experience what science has demonstrated; marriage has a stabilizing effect on relationships, helping many get through the challenging times rather than simply walking away. Logic suggests straight folks would encourage gay people to get married rather than trying to keep them from forming committed relationships. But then..."No prejudice has even been able to prove its case in the court of reason.” (Marguerite Gardiner)
Dan Johnson January 06, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Most straight people are not even aware there are over 1,138 federal rights and protections that automatically accompany marriage in addition to the state legal protections. Yet I doubt you will find any who are willing to give them up. They also never explain why those of no religious belief, as well as those of every religious belief, are allowed to marry if it is only a religious rite and not a fundamental civil right.
Dan Johnson January 06, 2013 at 08:16 PM
If nothing else, they demonstrate why no one would choose to be gay if it were a matter of choice. The only choice is deciding to live life as an authentic human being, or living a destructive life of lies and denial of our humanity.

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