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Prospects Dimming for LGBT Rights in Missouri This Session

(AP) It's legal now in Missouri to fire someone or evict them from an apartment if they are gay, and efforts by some state lawmakers to outlaw such discrimination are dwindling as the session nears a close.

The Kansas City Star reported that the Missouri House Judiciary Committee debated adding sexual orientation and gender identity as protected statuses under the Missouri Human Rights Act.

Two gay Kansas City Democrats, state Reps. Randy Dunn and Greg Razer, sponsored the legislation, called the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act.

"Until we pass this legislation, I can still be fired from my job because I'm gay," Razer said. "The two of us can go to a restaurant tonight here in Jefferson City and be forced to leave because we're gay, and we would have no legal recourse. We feel that in 2017 in the state of Missouri, that would be unacceptable."

The only openly gay Republican in the Missouri General Assembly, Rep. Tom Hannegan from St. Charles, also testified in favor of the bill.

"We cannot continue as legislators that favor certain groups," Hannegan said. "Everybody needs to be treated fairly. Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination."

Opponents contend that adding sexual orientation and gender protections would infringe on the rights of certain religious groups.

Texas Gov. Abbott Vows to Sign Anti-LGBT Bathroom Bill

(AP) Texas - For months, Gov. Greg Abbott stayed silent and Texas' bathroom bill languished in the Legislature amid mounting criticism from LGBT activists and business groups.

Now Abbott's all-in, becoming the nation's first governor to fully embrace the issue. That makes the prospects for Texas blocking its own cities and school districts from instituting transgender-friendly policies on public restrooms suddenly bright - even with barely five weeks left before the legislative session ends May 29.

Abbott promised to cooperate with state lawmakers to "get a bill to my desk that I will sign into law."

The Senate weeks ago rushed to approve a bill mandating that transgender Texans use public bathrooms corresponding to their birth-certificate gender. But that seemed a tough sell in the House, where Speaker Joe Straus criticized it as bad for business and the governor's previous failure to weigh in offered no cover for would-be supporters.

Abbott's blessing only came after the House said it was setting aside the Senate bill and instead of advancing one prohibiting policies seeking to protect transgender rights in public bathrooms without specifically addressing birth-certificate gender.

Hundreds of people, including chambers of commerce representatives, decried the House bill as discriminatory during a recent, all-night hearing. But it should nonetheless be approved by the committee this week, clearing it for a House floor vote.