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Emerging GOP Leaders Standing Up to Old Farts on Marriage Equality

Last week, Attorney General Chris Koster announced he will not be appealing a ruling from a Kansas City judge requiring Missouri to recognize same-sex marriage licenses issued in other states.The decision was widely praised, but Speaker Tim Jones put out a statement condeming Koster's announcement and insisting that Missouri fight harder for the ability to deny loving couples marriage licenses. The Speaker characterised his opposition to Koster's decision in this way on twitter: 

Much to the Speaker's dismay, a growing number of Missouri Republicans are coming to the conclusion that advocating for discrimination isn't a 'family value.' Jake Loft, Chair of the Mizzou College Republicans took a slightly different perspective on the 'threat' of marriage equality: 

Hats off to Jake Loft for taking a strong stand for equality, despite the intransigence of GOP party leaders. Hopefully, Tim Jones will heed his wise advice and decide not to run for statewide office in 2016 as an anti-equality candidate. 

Of course, Jake is not alone. More and more equality-minded Republicans are standing up for the rights of the LGBT community.

In Missouri, you can still be fired due to your sexual orientation or gender identity. Even if a court ruling brings full marriage equality to our state, newly married same-sex couples could be legally fired if their employer notices a wedding announcenement in the local paper or a wedding photo on their desk. The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) would prohibit such discrimination, as 18 other states have already done. Contrary to popular misconception, it is currently not illegal to discriminate against the LGBT community under federal or Missouri law. 

Last year, Republican Senators Tom Dempsey, Mike Kehoe, Mike Parson, David Pearce, Gary Romine, David Sater, Rob Schaaf, Ryan Silvey and Wayne Wallingford voted for legislation that included nondiscrimination prohibitions similar to those proposed in the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act. In the Missouri House, Republicans Noel Torpey, Kevin Engler, Anne Zerr, Sheila Solon, and Nate Walker co-sponsored MONA.

Representative Walker even boldly spoke at a Kirksville City Council meeting in favor of passing a city-wide nondiscrimination ordinance. 15 cities in Missouri have passed such protections, most recently last week in Springfield, but statewide coverage is very much needed. As we near the start of the 2015 legislative session, hopefully the increase in bi-partisan support for LGBT equality will translate into action under the dome to pass MONA.