Kirksville’s city council passed an ordinance to add sexual and gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy Aug. 19, by a 3-2 vote.
Employers in Kirksville may no longer discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The council previously struck down the ordinance in a 3-2 vote July 1.
Kirksville, became the 12th city in the state to pass such an ordinance and the only city outside of the St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City metro areas.
Missourians for Equality, a statewide initiative, introduced the ordinance and has worked for months to get it passed.
Aaron Malin, executive director of Missourians for Equality, drafted the ordinance. Multiple community members also worked with the council to help pass the ordinance, Kirksville Councilman Glen Moritz said in an email.
"The president of (Truman State University), Dr. Troy Paino, was helpful in that he put pressure on our current mayor, Richard Detweiler, to reconsider his stance as to how welcoming Kirksville would be to our students here at TSU,” Mortiz said. “This did help significantly.”
Detwiler worked to help make the ordinance better fit Kirksville, Mortiz said.
"(He) eliminated a lot of legalese, and the biggest changes involved fitting employer verbiage to preclude businesses with less than five employees and reducing the fine to $200," Mortiz said.
At first, the ordinance was written to mirror those of other cities in Missouri with LGBTQ-friendly nondiscrimination policies, Smith said.
The original ordinance was voted on in July and did not pass because people were not comfortable with how the ordinance would be enforced. The city planned to use a nine-person volunteer human rights commission that would not cost the city anything extra, Smith said.
“That scared a lot of people off," Kelsey Smith, director of communication for Missourians for Equality, said.
One of the modifications on the ordinance was that it would be enforced by a single human rights ordinance compliance officer, who will be selected by the city manager.
"People felt more comfortable with a single person enforcing instead of a group of citizens," Smith said.
"This puts everyone on the same level and treats them the same," Smith said. "It means the community is more welcome as a whole."
Smith said she believes the step Kirksville has taken may influence other cities in Missouri and across the nation to follow.
There has been a several LGBTQ-friendly nondiscrimination policies passed in cities in different parts of the country. Vicco, Ky., the smallest town in Kentucky, passed a LGBTQ nondiscrimination policy in January.
Missourians for Equality is pushing for a statewide-LGBTQ nondiscrimination policy to be put on the next ballot. The organization needs 104,934 signatures in order to get on the ballot.
Missourians for Equality has 2,683 signatures and is working to get the remaining signatures by May 4, 2014.