Missouri Business Headlines

Filibuster stalls work in the Missouri Senate

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After nearly 40 hours of debate, the Missouri Senate has approved a resolution asking voters to decide whether the Constitution should be amended to provide protections to religious entities and businesses that refuse wedding services for same-sex couples.

Senate Joint Resolution 39 would prohibit government penalties, such as fines, against individuals or religious and closely held entities who refuse “goods of expressional or artistic creation” for same sex wedding ceremonies. The resolution is sponsored by Sen. Bob Onder, a Republican from Lake St. Louis.

Following the US Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriages, some vendors have been sued for their refusal to provide services for same-sex marriages. This has prompted a wave of legislative efforts to provide clergy and businesses protection against suits. Twenty one states have already passed “religious freedom” laws. But this legislation has come with a price.

Since April 2015, Indiana has lost more than $60 million in future convention business as a result of the RFRA controversy, according to a study by the Indianapolis visitors and convention bureau. Other states have seen economic backlash from the laws.

Sen. Onder’s resolution is part of a new wave of legislation in 2016 that addresses same-sex marriages explicitly. Previous religious freedom bills were broader, and therefore more controversial.

The Missouri resolution also differs from other states’ legislation in that it is not a statute, but rather a change to the Constitution, which requires a vote of the people.

Missouri was one of the first states in the nation to pass “religious freedom” legislation. Democrat Gov. Bob Holden signed this law in 2003.

 

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