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Sam Page close-up

County Executive Sam Page, on the council bench, observes as Anthony Shahid of St. Louis City and Kumeil Isreal of St. Louis County kneel in front of the St. Louis County Council after calling for the firing of St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, citing the Wildhaber case and other alleged incidents of discrimination, during a St. Louis County Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. Photo by Troy Stolt,

Regarding “Two lawyers cited Missouri law that it’s legal to discriminate against gays. The St. Louis County Executive got angry.” (Nov. 1): I was outraged by County Executive Sam Page’s comments. He is quoted as saying he was “horrified and surprised that argument [sexual orientation is not a protected class under Missouri law] was used, and I don’t want to see it used again.” Page is not a member of the Legislature. He doesn’t make the law. His job is to enforce the law, fairly and impartially. If Page wants to change the law, he should contact his representatives. His constituents will pay the price for his unilateral action.

Even more outrageous were the statements of County Counselor Beth Orwick, who said, “No matter what state law says, sexual orientation discrimination is unacceptable. I specifically instructed the lawyers involved not to make this argument.” Orwick is an attorney, and the people of the St. Louis County are her clients. Ordering members of her staff not to pursue a clearly legal and valid defense is unethical.

As much as these events may frustrate Page and Orwick, it serves an important purpose. If we abandon the rule of law in favor of the rule of “good intentions,” our republic is not long for this world. Discrimination based on sexual orientation may be morally reprehensible, but it is not a violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act. Page and Orwick have no right to act otherwise, no matter what their intentions.

Christopher Thornton • Brentwood