COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
On Tuesday night, the Columbia Commission on Human Rights met at City Hall to discuss the possibility of Columbia becoming an LGBTQ+ sanctuary city.
The discussion comes after the The University of Missouri chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America presented an ordinance to the Columbia City Council Monday night.
The ordinance would prevent the city from penalizing or criminally prosecuting someone for seeking gender-transition care. It also prevents the city from gathering information on someone's biological sex. Earlier this year, a bill was passed that bans anyone under 18 years of age from receiving gender-affirming care.
During the meeting, transgender-rights advocates shared their reasons why the ordinance should be passed to members of the commission. Someone suggested in the meeting that some people could be leaving the city for safety concerns, and that Kansas City passed a similar resolution.
"We're having discussions about where will my child not get hurt, where will my child not get bullied you know where is their life not at risk?" one advocate said. While another, noted she and her family nearly moved earlier this year, and that her son is moving to Kansas City, citing safety reasons.
According to the Census Bureau's online data, there were 128,555 people in the city as of July 1, 2022; compared to 126,233 on April 1, 2020.
Council members agreed on a motion Monday night to receive feedback and recommendations from the commission, as well as legal staff before adding the ordinance to a council agenda.
However, many council members noted that they are in support of the ordinance. Ward 6 Councilwoman Betsy Peters said that while she supports the idea of the ordinance, she has some concern that it could lead to issues between the council and the attorney general.
The commission noted that they need more time to research the ordinance as well as talk to experts about the potential benefits of adding one. Members also brought up the possibility of the ordinance causing legal trouble, specifically when it comes to HIPAA laws.
Columbia School Board member and advocate, Paul Harper said that the language of the draft would prevent that from becoming an issue.
"How we drafted is so that we're not nullifying any state laws. What we did is we made it so that it's the lowest priority," Harper said. "We're not going to be spending our resources figuring out who is trans and not trans."
The commission said that a vote will happen in January at the earliest.
Following that vote, it could be taken to council where council members would then make a decision. If agreed upon, it would not likely show up on the council's agenda until February at the earliest.