Missouri House Pushes Ahead with SJR 39, "Religious Freedom" Resolution, Tonight

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PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK/FOTOS593
  • Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/Fotos593
Showing a remarkable commitment to stealing the spotlight from North Carolina and making Missouri the object of the nation's disgust, the state House of Representatives here scheduled a controversial "religious freedom" resolution for a committee hearing tonight.

The decision to hear the bill, SJR 39, comes after weeks of stalling — and numerous actions that suggest the Missouri House would be better off letting the idea wither on the vine.

It's not just that Missouri Democrats shut down the state government last month in an epic filibuster to try to prevent the legislation from going to a vote. (Only a procedural move allowed the GOP to cut off debate and push the thing through the Senate.)

Or that North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory is now trying to back away from the law he signed codifying the right to discriminate against LGBT people — a law that led no less than Bruce Springsteen to boycott the state and cost North Carolina hundreds of jobs, too.

It's also that a broad coalition of Missouri businesses has risen up to condemn the proposed constitutional amendment — with everyone from Monsanto to the Four Seasons Hotel signing on to the effort to stop it in its tracks.

Beyond that, the legislation is patently unnecessary. SJR 39 would bar the state from imposing "any penalty" on those entities — including churches, other houses of worship and individuals "with sincere religious beliefs" — who decline to officiate or otherwise participate in same-sex marriage celebrations. And that's utterly superfluous, since it's already totally legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in Missouri.  

But anything to piss off the business community and throw away future job creation, right?

Ryan Johnson, president of the Missouri Alliance Freedom, issued a statement saying this yesterday: “It has been one month since the Senate passed SRJ39 after enduring a historic 40-hour filibuster. Since that time, there has been much hyperbole and misinformation from the left and their big business cronies. We urge House Leadership to move quickly to pass SJR39."

And they're apparently listening. The Missouri House's "Emerging Issues" committee scheduled a hearing for 6:30 p.m. to consider the measure.

Yeah, we'd say this one has some "emerging issues" alright.

Progress Missouri has announced plans to livestream the hearing. You can watch all the madness from home via this link.

UPDATE: Here's the latest on what happened at last night's hearing, which stretched all the way to midnight. 

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com


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