Missouri “religious freedoms” bill fails to pass House committee
Yesterday, Missouri’s Senate Joint Resolution 39 failed to pass the House Emerging Issues Committee by a 6-6 vote effectively killing the religious freedom legislation for the year. The bill would have asked voters to amend Missouri’s constitution to protect certain individuals and businesses who cite religious beliefs to deny service to same-sex couples.
“We are grateful to the Emerging Issues Committee for listening to the messages of thousands of Missourians and businesses, as well as their own hearts, and stopping SJR 39. Religious freedom is an incredibly important value, but those religious beliefs should never be used to harm another person,” said Steph Perkins, Executive Director of PROMO, the state’s leading equality group.
“We thank the committee and everyone across the state and country who spoke out against this harmful bill. We look forward to our continued to work to ensure that every Missourian, including those who are gay and transgender, have the same opportunities to work hard, provide for their families, succeed.
SJR 39 has had national attention in light of the news of anti-LGBT bills in North Carolina and Mississippi passing. This pressure, as well as pressure from businesses across Missouri, put the resolution under a microscope in Jefferson City. Thousands of emails in opposition to SJR 39 were sent to committee members, and a petition with over 4,200 signatures opposing SJR 39 was delivered to the Speaker of the House.
The committee held a public testimony in an over-capacity room on April 12. The hearing lasted over four hours and only one-fourth of those in attendance were able to speak.
Businesses and organizations that provided testimony in opposition included Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Kansas City Sporting Commission, St. Louis Sporting Commission, Monsanto, St. Louis Regional Chamber, and Visit KC. Overwhelmingly, businesses expressed concern that SJR 39 would have a negative impact on the economy.
“Today is a victory for equality, stated Jeffrey Mittman, Executive Director of ACLU of Missouri. “We are very pleased that SJR 39 failed by a bipartisan vote today in committee. The ACLU recognizes the countless individuals and organizations – from the business, faith, LGBT and allied communities – who joined together to oppose SJR 39. We are grateful to the bipartisan members of the Committee for thoughtfully listening to the voices of Missourians and doing the right thing for our state.”
“We thank the House committee for listening to the overwhelming chorus of fair-minded Missourians, business leaders, and civil rights advocates who demanded they oppose this radical legislation that threatens severe harm to the entire state,” added JoDee Winterhof, Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President for Policy & Political Affairs. “However, even with this vote today, we must remain diligent to ensure this discriminatory legislation does not move in any other way during the final two weeks of the legislative session.”
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“The district court’s decision is ripe for reversal and we are confident that, as this case moves ahead, it will be reversed.”December 19, 2016
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