‘Religious Freedom’ or ‘LGBT’ bill passes Senate, goes to House for approval

Cole Schnell
Contributing Writer

After a 39-hour filibuster by the Democratic senators, Missouri Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 39 or “anti-LGBT bill” on March 10. The bill is currently in the House.

GSA participates wears ribbons for day of silence . Photo by Cole Schnell.

The Missouri Republicans (about 75 percent of the Senate) passed the bill to restate religious freedom. The bill prohibits punishment of businesses by the government if they discriminate against LGBT persons for religious reasons.

Businesses could do so by not providing goods and services for any LGBT celebration including weddings. The bill is trying to emphasize religion in the Missouri Constitution for “religious freedom.” The Senate is doing this by adding a new section (will be known as Section 36) to the Constitution under Article I.

Senators in favor of the bill are calling it the “religious liberty” or “religious freedom” bill rather than “anti-LGBT” bill.

Gay Straight Alliance president Sam Pey said, “[The bill] allows to discriminate if they claim religious reasons.”

The bill would amend the Article I of the Missouri Constitution. SJR-39 says, according to http://www.senate.mo.gov, “Protection of certain religious organizations and individuals from being penalized by the state because of their sincere religious beliefs or practices concerning marriage between two persons of the same sex.”

Amnesty International spoke out against this bill, and WGHS Amnesty International sent a letter asking Governor Jay Nixon to veto the original bill.

Even though Nixon is against the bill, he doesn’t have power to veto because the bill is a ballot measure or proposition.

If the bill passes in the House, the bill will be voted by constituents during the next election.

According to a Human Rights Campaign post on April 11, “Nearly 200 anti-LGBT bill, have been introduced in 34 states.”

North Carolina had a similar bill (HB2), but more extreme, that became law. The law is having negative repercussions on the state’s economy. Paypal recently decided to cancel its plans to open an office in North Carolina due to the bill, which lost North Carolina of 250 new jobs.

Other states that passed similar bills, like in Indiana and Mississippi, also had backlash. The states immediately had boycotts and protest from individuals and companies/organizations.

Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player to be drafted by the NFL, who is from Missouri, also spoke out against the bill and returned to Missouri to fight it.

Sam said in an article he wrote for the Columbia Tribune, “This so-called ‘religious liberty’ bill is just another way to undermine the dignity of LGBT people and their families.”

A majority of the bills that are being introduced are based on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act which became law when Bill Clinton signed it in 1993.

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