An LGBTQ+ history exhibit removed from the Missouri state capitol has been set up in another state building, but a gay legislator and allies aren’t buying the excuse for the move, saying it’s due to homophobia instead.
“Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights,” a traveling exhibit organized by students in the public history program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was in the Missouri State Museum on the first floor of the capitol in Jefferson City for three days last week.
It’s now been moved to the adjacent Lohman Building, with the governor and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the museum, saying state law wasn’t followed in the decision to put it in the capitol. The law requires approval of exhibits by the Board of Public Buildings, said Gov. Mike Parson, who is a member of the board along with the lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Greg Razer, the only out gay state senator, is calling BS on that reasoning. “The interpretation of this statute is ludicrous,” he told St. Louis TV station KTVI. “If that’s what they are holding on to, then be consistent and let’s remove every item out of that museum. The administration and the state parks took that exhibit out of the state capitol and they put it in a closet.”
Razer said he spoke to a former museum director about the matter. “He said in his 24 years of running the museum, they had never gone to the Board of Public Buildings for approval on any exhibit that they were showing,” said Razer, a Democrat from Kansas City. “The DNR got complaints from homophobic legislators, they panicked, they pulled the exhibit, I called them out on it, and then the governor’s legal and public relations team had to scurry to find some excuse to why they took it down, and the state statute is the only reason they could find.”
The complaints included one from Uriah Stark, an aide to Republican state Rep. Mitch Boggs. The museum was “pushing the LGBT agenda” with “in-your-face banners,” Stark posted on Facebook. When the exhibit was removed, he put up another Facebook post, saying “To God be the glory!” and thanking legislators for supporting “traditional family values.”
Now Missouri Democrats say the exhibit should be returned to the museum in the capitol or all other exhibits taken down because they haven’t received board approval, the Missouri Independent reports. “If you stick to your story that the LBGTQ exhibit had to come down because the board of public buildings didn’t approve it, then to be consistent you must immediately remove all exhibits the board hasn’t approved,” House Minority Leader Crystal Quade wrote in a Wednesday letter to Dru Buntin, director of the Department of Natural Resources. “Since this is a function the board has never performed, that means stripping the Missouri State Museum bare.” It would be simpler to return the LGBTQ+ display to the museum, she said.
If neither of those actions is taken, it would be a “tacit admission that you and the governor have caved to homophobia and engaged in content-based discrimination — the very thing your lie was intended to avoid,” Quade wrote.
There’s no record of a response yet. The exhibit is scheduled to stay up at the Lohman Building through December 26, the same scheduled closing date as when it was at the museum.