by Br. Daryl Charron, C.PP.S.
The Missouri House Emerging Issues Committee voted down Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 39 this past week at the State Capital. This measure sought to enshrine state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people and their families into the Missouri Constitution. The extreme resolution would have led to a ballot measure that proposes to allow individuals, organizations, and businesses to use religion as a legal excuse to discriminate against LGBT people by broadly redefining the definition of religious organizations. Thanks be to God that the House committee listened to the overwhelming majority of Missourians, business leaders and civil rights advocates who demanded they oppose this radical legislation that threatens severe harm to our state.
The opposition to SJR 39 was overwhelming. More than 60 leading CEOs and business executives signed on to an open letter urging lawmakers to stop the proposal that would have extreme negative consequences for Missouri’s economy. Let us pray that this vote make us diligent to ensure this discriminatory legislation does not move in any other way during the final two weeks of the legislative session. SJR 39 went far beyond protecting the right of free exercise of one’s religion, opening the door to discrimination against same-sex couples.
If SJR 39 had been voted into law, LGBT people and their families could have suddenly found themselves at risk of being denied many basic services. Missouri still lacks explicit, statewide non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. This legislation had the potential to undermine existing LGBT non-discrimination protections at the city level of government. Let’s continue to guard the basic human dignity of our LGBT community and always seek justice on their behalf by advocating for them to our state legislators.