Update: Equality Federation extends our deepest gratitude to the eight courageous Senators in Missouri who filibustered for a historic 39 hours to prevent a discriminatory religious exemption bill from moving forward in the legislature. SJ39 is a dangerous bill that would ask the voters of Missouri to amend their constitution to allow religious organizations and individuals to use their faith to legally justify refusing services and benefits to LGBTQ people. Unfortunately, the Senate forced a vote, and the bill passed in a 23-9 vote. It now heads to the House.
“The eight Senators who filibustered for hours on end are champions of fairness and freedom,” said Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director of Equality Federation. “They have inspired people and businesses all across the country to stand up against the tidal wave of attacks against LGBTQ people and our families. Freedom of religion is important to all of us, and it is already strongly protected. We call on House Speaker Todd Richardson to do the right thing and stop this dangerous bill from moving forward any further.”
In addition to enshrining discrimination into law, these types of bills have caused serious economic impact in other states. Indiana lost over $60 million in business revenue after passing a discriminatory religious exemption bill. Many companies, big and small, have already spoken out against SJ39 including two of Missouri’s largest employers, Dow Chemical and Monsanto. Equality Federation calls upon the Missouri’s lawmakers to consider the range of negative impacts this legislation could have on the state.
Steph Perkins, Executive Director of Federation member PROMO Missouri said, “We are beyond disappointed that the Senate has voted to pass SJR 39. We agree that religion is a fundamental right, which is why it is protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and our existing Human Rights Act. But those same religious beliefs cannot and should not be used as a reason to deny someone the same services that are offered to the rest of the public. And that is exactly what SJR 39 would do.”