While you might expect an outcry from special interest groups and liberal organizations, who knew there was such liberal leanings within major corporations, and smaller businesses, within Missouri’s borders? That outcry is what State Senator, Bob Onder, his constituents and the rest of Missouri are hearing as his religious freedom bill moves through the Missouri legislature.
Onder, who represents Missouri’s 2nd district, introduced SJR 39 at the beginning of this session and it has people, on both sides of the issue, very lathered up. The resolution is a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit the state from imposing penalties on religious organizations, individuals or businesses that provide goods or services, who refuse to participate in gay weddings, due to religious conflicts.
The issues of gay marriage and religious freedom are hot topics across the country, with several states already adopting and/or rejecting similar laws.
Most surprisingly are the responses from some major corporations who call Missouri home. Consumerist.com reports the resolution is bad for business.
“With North Carolina and Mississippi already passing bills that respectively, limit protections against gay and transgender people, and explicitly allow discrimination against the LGBT community, another coalition of big-name companies are hoping to stop Missouri lawmakers from going down the same path, with seed giant Monsanto telling Congress that such rules are bad for business.”
It also claims the resolution gives businesses the right to declare themselves as religious organizations in order to fall within its parameters, and that would give the state a black eye.
“SJR 39 is not just about wedding vendors and clergy,” he continued. “It redefines the term ‘religious organization’ so that any for-profit business can self-declare itself a religious organization and then discriminate against same sex couples in employment, housing and public accommodations.”
If the resolution passes as it currently exists, says Monsanto, “It would harm the reputation of our entire state, potentially costing the state millions of dollars in economic activity and untold losses in the dignity every citizen of Missouri deserves.”
Dozens of Missouri businesses have signed on to this philosophy, not the least of which is Monsanto, whose world headquarters are currently located in St. Louis suburbs. Missouri Competes is a site of businesses and corporations who oppose the resolution. Among those listed are Pfizer, Dow, Mastercard, NestlePurina, Marriot, Edward Jones, and Express Scripts. ST. Louis, Kansas City and St. Charles County Chambers of Commerce from around the state have also joined in, among others.
And while it seems Onder is facing immense opposition to his initiative, he feels he has the support of the people.
“The resolution’s sponsor, state senator Bob Onder, tells the AP that the people of Missouri should be the ones to decide this issue, and that these “corporate elites” will be the ones who are boycotted.”
Because the resolution seeks to amend the constitution, it requires a vote of the people.