LISTEN: Missouri Lawmaker Can’t Describe Why Racial Discrimination Differs from Anti-LGBT Discrimination

By Megan Clayton • March 8, 2016 • 2:39 pm
As Missouri Senate Democrats’ filibuster to oppose discrimination approaches a full 24 hours, it’s easy to forgot just how simple this dangerous bill (SJR39) really is. It would allow some private businesses to refuse to serve customers based on who they are or who they love.

In defending his bill, Senator Bob Onder cited the case of Oregon bakers Aaron & Melissa Klein. They refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, in violation of the state’s nondiscrimination ordinance which protects everyone in Oregon from discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age.” Despite pro bono legal representation from Alliance Defending Freedom, the Kleins lost their case and are currently appealing, albeit with different lawyers.Currently, Missouri civil rights law protects people on the basis of “race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age, or disability,” but not sexual orientation or gender identity. Senator Jason Holsman offered his colleague an example based on racial discrimination and asked him to explain the difference. Senator Onder’s inability to do so was telling. Take a listen:

Senator Holsman: What do you think would happen if an African-American couple walked in and Ms. Klein decided that she didn’t want to do an African-American wedding top? Do you think that would be acceptable?

Senator Onder: Well, no it wouldn’t. It wouldn’t. But I think there are, there are um, yeah I think this this this issue of trying to- to confute, for one thing there is, there really is no… Race has nothing to do with marriage.”

Senator Onder may believe that, but if he were holding office less than 50 years ago, his statement would have raised eyebrows. Back then, race had everything to do with marriage. Missouri barred interracial marriages until 1967, when the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia ruled such laws unconstitutional. Justification for these laws was largely based on racist interpretations of Biblical scripture.

Follow along with PROMO as Missouri lawmakers continue their filibuster of SJR39 in the Missouri Senate, and read more here.

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