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June is PRIDE month!

pride-monthToo many people associate Pride events with a big party, sometimes a wild party that is too risque for kids to attend. But there’s more to celebrating LGBT pride than a weekend hangout with loud music and rainbow-colored knick-knacks.

There’s a lot for the LGBT community to celebrate, buy why do we come together and what is the history behind it? Well, learning the history of Pride and why it’s celebrated in June is one of the ways you can celebrate in a meaningful way. Want even more? Good! Mashable put together a list of ten…

  1. Learn your history
  2. Support your local LGBT youth centers
  3. Look beyond marriage equality
  4. Watch films with positive, complex depictions of LGBT life
  5. Support LGBT art and film
  6. Support local and national businesses that are LGBT friendly
  7. Be critical of your workplace’s LGBT policies
  8. Get tested, and tell all of your friends to do the same
  9. Talk with a younger and older member of the LGBT community about their experiences
  10. Finally, go to your local LGBT Pride event.

To read more about each of these in detail, visit the article on Mashable.


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Kansas City businesses recognized at the 9th Annual Corporate Celebration of Equality

On April 8th, HRC Kansas City hosted the 9th Annual Corporate Celebration of Equality honoring major Kansas City area employers committed to LGBT equality in the workplace. The event attracts employers committed to equality from states all across the Midwest. Twenty-four companies in total were recognized for their Corporate Equality Index (CEI) score running the gamut from Hallmark and Principal Financial to Sprint and local law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James received an award on behalf of his work with the city council to achieve a 100 on the Municipal Equality Index (MEI). Mayor James made news in February with his response to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who rolled backed protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state workers. His social media tweet, “LGBT COMMUNITY!  You are welcome in Kansas City!” instantly went viral and speaks to his dedication to fostering an environment of inclusion.

Cerner Corporation played host and was able to highlight its 90% score on HRC’s CEI. Three healthcare companies also were recognized for receiving the designation of “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” via HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) — Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics, Research Medical Center & St. Luke’s Health System.


Companies honored and present to receive their awards included Anheuser-Busch (100%), Black & Veatch (65%), Bryan Cave, LLP (100%), Cerner Corporation (90%), Enterprise Holdings (65%), Hallmark (90%), Husch Blackwell, LLP (90%), Nestle Purina PetCare (95%), Principal Financial (90%), Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP (100%), Sprint (100%), Stinson Leonard Street (90%), Union Pacific (70%), and Waddell & Reed (65%)

Companies who are no present by achieved high enough scores to be recognized included AMC Entertainment (100%), Ameren (85%), Brown Shoe Company (100%), ConAgra Foods (100%), Emerson Electric (80%), Express Scripts (70%), Fleishman-Hillard Inc. (80%), Monsanto (100%), Polsinelli Shughart (70%)Thompson Coburn LLP (100%), The Laclede Group (80%), and Rockwell Collins (95%).

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Heated LGBT rights debate continues in Missouri

Over the last decade, the landscape on LGBT rights has shifted rapidly across the nation. What was once considered unthinkable is becoming increasingly commonplace, from gay men and women being allowed to serve openly in the military to the potential for the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage this year in all 50 states.

Despite that change, 29 states — including Missouri and Kansas — have no statewide law barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. That means a person can be fired from a job, evicted from an apartment or kicked out of a restaurant for being gay or being perceived to be gay.

Lawmakers were discussing a bill making it illegal in Missouri to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity just weeks after voters in Springfield narrowly voted to repeal a local nondiscrimination ordinance.

Resistance at the Statehouse has forced Missouri gay rights advocates to turn to local government. More than a dozen cities and counties in Missouri, including Kansas City and Jackson County, have passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Ron Calzone went to the Missouri Capitol on Wednesday to stand up for his “God-given freedom” to discriminate.

“Everyone’s afraid to say this, so I’m going to say it,” Calzone, a rancher from Maries County in south-central Missouri and director of conservative think tank Missouri First, told a House committee.

“In America, you have a right to discriminate as a private citizen. In America, if you don’t like the color of someone’s eyes or their hair or the way they talk, you have the right to not associate with them.”


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LGBT protections repealed in Missouri’s 3rd largest city

Six months after it was enacted, Springfield voters repealed an ordinance to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents from discrimination.

The city council had voted 6-3 in October to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

Opponents, who voiced concern about religious freedom and the potential effect of the ordinance on the use of bathrooms across the city, gathered enough signatures to force council to either repeal the expansion or send it to the ballot box. The city council tabled the measure, which automatically set up the vote.

Final results of the Tuesday vote were close, 51.4% to repeal vs. 48.6% not.

“Momentum really turned in the last weeks,” said Calvin Morrow, spokesman for the campaign to repeal gay rights in Missouri’s third largest city. He had questioned whether discrimination against gay and lesbian residents actually happened in Springfield and said the fight over the ordinance had left the city divided.

Justin Burnett, who won a council seat Tuesday, supported repeal of the ordinance. He said it was a win for small business and the faith community.

“A lot of people of faith thought this ordinance neglected their constitutional and God-given rights,” he said.

At least 225 cities and counties across the USA prohibit hiring and housing discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for LGBT equal rights.

In Missouri, at least six cities including Kansas City and St. Louis as well as St. Louis County have an ordinance, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

PROMO, the Missouri-based gay-rights advocacy group, puts the number at a dozen cities and two counties, including Jackson County that has Kansas City. All but two of the smaller locales — college towns Columbia and Kirksville — are St. Louis suburbs.

“People have worked so hard on this. We’ll rest tonight and we’ll regroup tomorrow,” Krista Moncado of the GLO Community Center, a gay and transgender organization in Springfield, said after the results were made final.

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Missouri bill would make issuing same-sex marriage licenses a fireable offense

A Missouri legislator has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for the state to enforce a marriage other than between a man and a woman and could lead to the firing of government employees who issue such licenses.

The bill, SB 555, was introduced by Sen. Ed Emery (R-Lamar):

This act provides that the state shall not enforce a marriage other than a marriage between a man and a woman. Additionally, no state or local taxpayer funds or state or local government employee salaries shall be dispersed for an activity that includes the licensing or support of a marriage other than a marriage between a man and a woman.

Any employee of the state or any political subdivision or instrumentality of the state who willfully and knowingly violates the provisions of this act may be terminated and shall no longer receive any salary, employee benefits, or retirement benefits, except that the employee may request a refund of the employee’s retirement contributions plus interest.

Same-sex marriage licenses are currently being issued in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and Jackson County, Mo., following back-to-back state and federal court decisions declaring Missouri’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. In Oct. 2014, a Jackson County decision recognized same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Both the St. Louis Circuit Court and Kansas City U.S. District Court decisions have been appealed by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to the State Supreme Court and 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, respectively.

Koster, a Democrat who supports marriage equality but says it is his job to defend state laws, did not appeal the earlier decision recognizing out of state same-sex marriages.

“I was disappointed that a bill like this has been introduced this year,” said Kyle Piccola, Senior Field Organizer for PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization. “Even after three judges in Missouri ruled in favor of marriage equality, some members of the legislature are grasping to stop the inevitable from happening.”

Emery’s bill comes on the heels of a Senate Education Committee’s hearing of twin bills (SB-248 and SB-311) on Wednesday, which would make it legal for Christian college groups to discriminate against LGBT students on Missouri campuses. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Missouri House.

The bill is similar to measures introduced in Texas and in Oklahoma that also target local officials with job loss for issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

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