Following Historic 40-Hour Filibuster, Missouri Senate Advances Anti-LGBT Constitutional AmendmentBy Adam Polaski • March 9, 2016 • 9:48 am
This morning, March 9, in St. Louis, the Missouri Senate advanced the discriminatory SJR 39, an anti-LGBT bill that, if approved, would send a proposed constitutional amendment to the November 2016 ballot. The bill would allow individuals and organizations to cite religious beliefs as an excuse for discriminating against LGBT people. The full Senate must vote on more time on the bill, before it heads over to the House.
The vote came after a historic 40-hour filibuster, the longest ever in the state of Missouri. The passionate filibuster was led by a group of dedicated lawmakers and drew national attention. Throughout the filibuster, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, Dow Chemical, and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon all spoke out against the legislation.
Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe said today:
“Freedom for All Americans commends the seven dedicated lawmakers and tireless advocates in Missouri who committed so much energy and passion over the last 40 hours to speaking out against SJR 39. This bill, should it pass and land on the ballot, threatens Missouri’s economy and its reputation as a good place to do business. That is a reality that we’ve seen play out in other states, like Indiana and Georgia. This historic filibuster grabbed the attention of the nation and should make it clear to lawmakers in states across the country that they cannot quietly pass discriminatory and dangerous legislation like this.”
SJR 39 would allow business owners and even taxpayer-funded organizations to deny critical services to LGBT people – not only things like a table in a restaurant or a ticket to a movie, but critical services such as adoption and healthcare. A recent study out of Indiana found that the backlash over similar legislation there last year cost Indianapolis at least $60 million. The Missouri bill is particularly dangerous because the state does not currently extend non-discrimination protections to anyone based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The filibuster was lead by a group of seven state senators, all Democrats – Sens. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, Kiki Curls, Jason Holsman, Joe Keaveny, Jamilah Nasheed, Jill Schupp, and Scott Sifton. At one point during debate over the legislation yesterday, the bill’s sponsor couldn’t explain a differentiation between discrimination motivated by race versus discrimination motivated by anti-LGBT bias. Listen to the exchange here.
Freedom for All Americans applauds the lawmakers for their commitment – and stands with PROMO Missouri and other state organizations fighting against SJR 39.
McTighe added today: “It’s increasingly clear that our opposition is working at a national level to push bills like this across the country in a coordination fashion. But this historic filibuster should serve as a warning: Lawmakers, businesses, and everyday citizens are aware that the freedom of religion is solidly protected in our country, and nothing will change that. They see these bills for what they really are: tools for discriminating against LGBT people.”