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Last week, State Senator Gary Romine (R-Farmington) wrote about SJR 39, a "religious freedom" bill that along with SB 916 has been quickly passed through the legislative process and now sits on the Senate calendar to be brought up for debate at any time.
"Specifically, SJR 39 prohibits the state from imposing a penalty on a religious organization or individual who acts in accordance with a sincere religious belief. Protected acts include refusing to perform a same sex marriage ceremony or allow this ceremony to be performed on the organization’s property, as well as declining to provide goods of expressional or artistic creation for the ceremony."
As it stands, religious institutions are free to practice their beliefs and protected by law in doing so. However, this bill and other "religious freedom" bills like it, expand the definition of who or what is considered a religious entity. Effectively blurring the line between church and pastry chef.
So not only do religious protections already exist for Missourians, expanding them is not as benign an act as it seems.
What Jefferson City politicians should be focused on is passing the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA), which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Missouri Human Rights statute of our constitution. Thus protecting LGBT Missourians from discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations.
At the end of his legislative update, Romine asks for feedback:
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at 573-751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101; or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; or www.senate.mo.gov/romine.
Especially if you live in his district (Senate District 3), urge Romine to refocus his efforts on passing MONA, so all Missourians may have equal protection under the law.
You can look up your state senator here if you would like to contact them instead.