Dooley supports measure to extend anti-discrimination laws to LGBT community
St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley says he would sign into law proposals to curtail discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Whether such a measure will pass muster with the County Council, however, remains to be seen.
Last Friday, a group of Democratic state legislators, municipal leaders and gay rights organizations called on St. Louis County municipalities to adopt ordinances protecting individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (LGBT) from discrimination regarding housing, workplace or public accommodations.
The group also called on St. Louis County to pass such an ordinance, so that it would apply to unincorporated portions of the county.
Dooley told reporters after Tuesday’s county council meeting that he would sign such an ordinance into law.
“If the council comes up with it, I’d be more than happy to sign it,” Dooley said.
Current ordinances, he said, empower the county to take action against entities that violate anti-discrimination laws. If the laws were changed, such penalties could be taken against businesses that discriminate against LGBT individuals. “It would go through the due process, it would have to be reported,” he said. “Within the process, there are penalties that address that issue.”
In 2007, then-St. Louis County Councilwoman Barbara Fraser unsuccessfully attempted to add sexual orientation into the county’s anti-discrimination ordinances. Councilwoman Kathleen Burkett, D-Overland, was supportive of Fraser’s efforts, but added she didn’t know whether it could pass the council today.
“I would again be in support of it, I just don’t know how the rest of the council feels,” Burkett said this week. “Me personally, I would bring it forward. But it would be rather silly to do that if I don’t have the votes to get it anywhere.”
“If I don’t have the support of my fellow councilmembers, it’s kind of useless to do that,” she added. “You’re making a statement, but it’s not getting anywhere.”
No other council member was available after Tuesday’s meeting. Efforts to reach council chairman Michael O’Mara, D-Florissant, were unsuccessful.
Several St. Louis County municipalities – including Clayton, Richmond Heights, Olivette and University City – have passed ordinances encompassing LGBT individuals into anti-discrimination laws. Similar laws have also been passed in St. Louis and Kansas City.