Thursday, April 14, 2016

Missouri to put discrimination on the ballot

Welcome to Missouri homophobia
The prospects are looking good for Missouri's Senate Joint Resolution 39 to be enacted. Republicans control both houses of the Missouri General Assembly by considerable margins. The resolution consists of the full ADF boilerplate (with the exception of gender identity discrimination) and, if passed, it will put the bill before the voters in November. Voters will be faced with an all or none proposition.

Before I get into the house of horrors that this bill is, putting it before the voters is probably going to attract a great deal of outside special interest money. Missourians will be asked to consider the plight of the florist, the photographer and the bakers whom we know all too well.

Romnney captured 54% of their presidential vote in 2012 (it looks even worse of the map) and Missourians are relatively socially conservative. Conservatives are better at demagoguery than we are so I suspect that this piece of shit will pass. In the process, the campaign is going to put considerable stress on the LGBT community — particularly the kids, including those being raised by gay couples.

So what's in this thing?

Well, for starters, religious organizations can pretend that we are not married and discriminate in any way that the choose with the specific exception of hospital visitation and surrogate health decisions. How heterosexual of them. Once again, the definition of religious organization is ambiguous. It includes “where said organization holds itself out to the public in whole or in part as religious and its purposes and activities are in whole or in part religious.” They do not even have to be non-profit.

How they define religious organizations doesn't matter that much because individuals are free to discriminate: 
… the state shall not impose a penalty on an individual who declines either to be a participant in a marriage or wedding ceremony or to provide goods or services of expressional or artistic creation for such a marriage or ceremony or an ensuing celebration thereof, because of a sincere religious belief concerning marriage between two persons of the same sex.
And, of course, this bill, if enacted, would effectively nullify the nondiscrimination ordinances that currently exist. Columbia, Clayton, Kansas City, Kirkwood, Olivette, the City and County of St. Louis and University City ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as does the state's university system.

The text that will be presented to voters:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to provide that the state shall not penalize religious organizations and certain individuals for religious beliefs or acts concerning marriage between two persons of the same sex, but the amendment does not prevent the provision of a marriage license or other marital benefits to such persons?
Now that doesn't sound terribly sinister. Does it?

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