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Webster Groves Council expands housing anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 6, 2013 - The Webster Groves City Council has unanimously approved an amendment to the city’s fair housing code that supporters say will protect renters and buyers from being discriminated against because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The council’s action, taken Tuesday night, doesn’t go as far as the anti-discrimination ordinances recently approved by the St. Louis County Council and several other county municipalities. Those ordinances also applied to employment and public accommodations.

Still, some gay-rights supporters praised the council’s action. "I celebrate that the movement for nondiscrimination is rolling forward in Webster Groves thanks to the City Council’s readiness to pass a fair housing ordinance that protects LGBT citizens," says Deb Krause of Eden Theological Seminary.

"As a faith leader and a 20-year Webster Groves resident, I pray that this important action will be followed soon by ordinances to ensure fairness for all with regard to employment and public accommodations. Webster Groves is a community too great to discriminate!"

A.J. Bockelman, executive director of PROMO – the region’s largest gay-rights group – said in a statement, “We are excited to see the organic, natural passage of local nondiscrimination updates that Webster Groves has taken on. Hopefully we will see more municipalities move forward to protect all of their community, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.