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Top Corporations in Missouri join Coalition opposing religious objections law

A coalition was joined by more than 60 businesses including some of Missouri’s biggest corporate names. The coalition opposed to state legislation that would defend businesses objecting on religious grounds, to same-sex marriages.

Agricultural giant Monsanto, prescription drug benefits manager Express Scripts, and pet food maker Nestle Purina are among the employers that will join Missouri Competes, that was recently formed, according to gay rights advocacy group Promo, which released the list just hours before a House committee heard testimony from business, sports and religious groups. Dozens crammed in the Capitol basement for the late-night hearing.

The emergence of the coalition comes amid business pushback to legislation in other states defending those opposed to same-sex marriage.

Several states and cities have put a ban on tax-payer funded travel to Mississippi in response to a law signed by the Republican governor last week to let workers cite religious beliefs to deny services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce, which opposes the Missouri measure, has pointed to Indiana as another example of the business backlash. A public-private tourism group has estimated Indiana’s loss in hotel profits, tax revenues and other economic benefits as $60 million after Indiana Republican Gov Mike Pence last year signed religious-objections legislation.

Leaders of utility company Ameren and BJC HealthCare signed a letter earlier this month against business provisions in the Missouri measure.

Supporters argue the Missouri law is intentionally narrower than laws passed in other states and is necessary to defend some businesses from being forced to violate religious beliefs.

The proposal would allow voters to decide whether to amend the Missouri Constitution to put a ban on government penalties against businesses that cite religion while declining goods or services of “expressional or artistic creation” for same-sex weddings. That would include florists and photographers.

The measure comes after bakers and florists have faced legal challenges in other states for not accepting to provide services for same-sex weddings. It also would shield clergy, places of worship and other religious organizations from being penalized for not participating in marriages involving same-sex partners.

In written testimony addressed to House committee members reviewing the bill, the Missouri Catholic Conference said “no person should be forced to personally attend and participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony if this violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Lee’s Summit pastor Phil Hopper was among religious leaders who backed the measure Tuesday.

“We cannot give one group of people certain rights and take away the rights of others that they’ve had for generations,” Hopper said.

Opponents say the legislation would enshrine discrimination in the Constitution.

Hart Nelson, the vice president of public policy at the St Louis Regional Chamber, said in a Tuesday statement that the legislation threatens the state’s reputation and could make it difficult for businesses to recruit candidates for jobs.

Republican Rep Anne Zerr, chairman of a House commerce committee said, “talent is gay and straight.” She also voiced concerns that enacting the measure would harm the state during the hearing, which stretched past midnight.

But Republican bill sponsor Sen Bob Onder said the concerns were “overblown and hyperbole.”

“Missourians are going to resent being bullied by corporate elites,” Onder said. He went on to say that “consumers are going to wake up and start boycotting these companies.”

Onder also cited support from the Missouri Farm Bureau.

The measure passed the Senate in March following a failed 37-hour filibuster by Democrats. If passed by the GOP-led House, it would sidestep Democratic Gov Jay Nixon and head to voters this year.




  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Suppose that the “law signed by the Republican governor last week to let workers cite religious beliefs to deny services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” instead allowed workers to cite religious beliefs to deny services to blacks, interracial couples, member of other religions, women who don’t have their heads covered, etc.?
    Religion has been at the forefront of denying basic human rights for thousands of years. Enough already. All you have to do is post a note on your place of business or website indicating that the work you provide for clients does not necessarily indicate your support for their cause, or reflect your beliefs. Or find a new business.
    But let Christianity keep this up. The growth of the “nones” has accelerated with the increase in religious hatred and bigotry. Even if religionist bigots win a battle or two, they will lose the war, because Christianity is losing the next generation with its religion of hostility to the other.

  2. Gallibus Reply

    Boycott these big companies that take freedom away from individuals to practice what they genuinely think is right. Isn’t America supposed to be the land of the free? If unusual sex practices are allowed, so should dissent to them be allowed. Is one forced to take drunks into the bar? Give people some space to live in peace and harmony without being forced into accepting evil behaviors.

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      So individuals should be able to practice what they think is genuinely right – like Muslims who want Sharia Law? Or do you just mean that Christians should be allowed to practice what they think is genuinely right? What if the Christian thinks it is genuinely right to blow up abortion clinics? Is that permissible if they are simply doing what they think is right based on what their religious leaders tell them?
      Yes, America is the land of the free. We are free not be be discriminated against based on Bronze and Iron Age religions. What religionists want is a licence to discriminate. We didn’t let you discriminate against blacks – we took that away from you by eliminating slavery and passing the Civil Rights Act; then we didn’t let you discriminate against women – we gave them the right to vote and to own property, then we didn’t let you discriminate against biracial couples – the Courts found this to be a violation of rights. Religion always seems to be in the way of doing the right thing, of ignoring all of Jesus’ teachings. Religionists it seems, are always going to find someone to discriminate against so that they can maintain this illusion of superiority, when their bigotry, and prejudice actually defines them as lessor beings.

      1. Zorsha Reply

        “Religionists it seems, are always going to find someone to discriminate against so that they can maintain this illusion of superiority, when their bigotry, and prejudice actually defines them as lessor beings.”

        You are very rights on this. The only time that I have seen anyone use the law infringing on their religious belief as ethical is when a woman almost got attested for feeding the homeless. It’s not our place to judge. Let God the Father do that. It’s your place to he a good servant which you can’t do with a bigoted heart

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