In addition to representing Missouri's 65th district in Jefferson City, Republican State Rep. Tom Hannegan also comprises 1/2 of the Missouri LGBT Caucus in the state legislature, along with Democrat State Rep. Greg Razer from Kansas City.


Hannegan, the publisher of Streetscape magazine and owner of Hannegan Real Estate & Construction, LLC, is only the second openly gay member of the GOP to serve in the Missouri General Assembly and  is currently one of only four openly LGBTQ Republicans serving in state legislatures across the country.


#Boom recently interviewed Hannegan, who is seeking reelection, as part of our "OUT on the Trail" series profiling Missouri and Illinois’ LGBTQ+ candidates in 2018.


Tell us about your district; where is it, what does it include?


It is primarily the portion of the City of St. Charles north of Interstate 70 and includes New Town, Mamelle Hills, Orchard Farm, Portage des Sioux, and West Alton to the north.


There are a record breaking six openly LGBTQ candidates running for the state legislature in Missouri in November. State Sen. Jolie Justus famously said, "If you don't have a seat at the table - you're probably on the menu." What has your experience been as an out politician and how do you use that platform?


In the last couple of years, the mood of the nation has shifted and the issue of my own sexual orientation doesn’t appear to be the same as it might have been in the past with voters. Obviously, that is not true with some segments of our society, but overall it is much more the mainstream view. People know where I stand on issues of discrimination.


You're a sponsor of the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, which would protect LGBTQ Missourians from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation. I've heard from several folks over the past few years that the votes are actually there to pass in both chambers; that it's just a matter of getting the legislation to the floor for a vote. Do you think that's the case? If so what can be done to compel the leadership to give MONA a vote?


I am proud to be a co-sponsor of MONA. This was only my freshman term of office as a State Representative. With the Republican majority in the House and Senate, the legislation only has a real chance of coming to the floor with Republican sponsorship. My re-election will put me in a better position, in other words with some seniority, to push the legislation.


Let's talk about the proverbial elephant in the room. You're a gay Republican and that's hard to understand for a lot of LGBTQ voters. How do you define your Republicanism vs. what we are seeing coming from the White House and Congress and to be honest, from many in Jefferson City?


There use to be many shades of Republicanism. More was able to get done nationally and at the state level when practical people were able to sit down and talk to each other. It has only been in recent years that the partisan and ideological divides have become so synced and locked in that gridlock occurs. I vehemently disagree with those Republicans who would deny our community full and equal rights and protections. But I also know I can do more to actually accomplish something as a Republican. You asked me to define my Republicanism in terms of the more extreme views and rhetoric of some in the Republican Party. I would have to define myself as a “practical” Republican who thinks that working together we can get things done. Not just in the area of basic human rights, but rebuilding roads and funding education. There was a time when those were pillars of the Republican Party and I would like to see them be again.


Let's talk about some other issues of importance to our readers. Crime is a major concern in the metropolitan areas. What's your plan to address it?


I like the idea that in those jurisdictions that need them, that body cameras could help in rebuilding trust between minority populations and the police. The police cannot stop crime alone. The City of St. Louis already has the highest percentage of police for its population than any other city (those over 200,000) except for Washington, D.C. What it takes is citizens reporting what they know and having the confidence in law enforcement to come forward as witnesses. At the end of the day you have to have clearance rates for crimes. You have to arrest and prosecute a murderer to keep him from committing another murder or a thief to perhaps prevent the next fifty burglaries they would commit. Right now, the clearance rate for crime is very low in St. Louis. That has to change. I am also very sympathetic to helping get young people jobs to break the cycle of hopelessness that breeds gangs and crime. But one doesn’t work without the other. You need both approaches.


Student Loan debt?


While this is mainly driven at the national level, I would like to see a usury limit of some kind so the loans don’t keep going up exponentially. I do support more funding for high education to try to keep the cost lower for students. Missouri could do better versus our surrounding states.


Access to affordable healthcare for Missourians?


We did this session, extend from two months to a year, Medicaid funding for new mothers who have addiction problems. I hear a lot of people make a lot of promises about affordable health care, but the truth is that can’t be solved on a state level. It will take a national solution.


Increasing the minimum wage to a living wage?


Proposition B is on the ballot to raise the minimum wage over the next couple of years. I believe that the will of the voters should be respected.


Equality advocates in Missouri find themselves playing more and more defense when it comes to LGBTQ rights. What are your thoughts on the Religious Freedom legislation allowing discrimination based on religious objections that is being introduced around the country?


I am opposed to discrimination against the LGBTQ community and don’t believe freedom of religion should be used as a smokescreen for discrimination. At the same time, I would rather see those who refuse to respect basic human rights simply boycotted by all right-minded individuals.


Presently we have two openly gay members in the state legislature. That number could grow considerably this year if the political winds blow just right. What advice would you give to any or all of these LGBTQ freshmen if elected to join your caucus?


I would tell them to be themselves. Learn everything they can about how the House and Senate function so they can be more effective. Build relations with members, especially those from the other side of the aisle and to not become frustrated.


Any final thoughts?


People want their elected Representatives to work together and get things done. I would ask your readers to please consider helping my candidacy, because I feel I am making a difference for them.


"OUT on the Trail" is an ongoing series of profiles on out LGBTQ candidates in 2018. Check out our interviews with Kathy EllisTom HanneganMitch WeberIan MackeyPatrice BillingsGreg Razer , Ryan DillonMaggie TrevorGreg HarrisKelly Cassidy and Lamont Robinson.




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