With the help of three courageous Republicans, the Missouri General Assembly has rejected a bogus “religious freedom” amendment that could have enshrined discrimination against gay people in the state Constitution.
On Wednesday, Reps. Jim Hansen, Caleb Rowden and Anne Zerr defied pressure applied by GOP colleagues and religious groups such as the Missouri Baptist Convention and Missouri Catholic Conference.
The GOP members joined three Democrats in rejecting Senate Joint Resolution 39 in the House Emerging Issues Committee on a 6-6 vote.
This is a huge victory for all of the business groups that spoke out against SJR39. They correctly pointed out that the Show-Me State does not want to be known as the home of bigots, much like North Carolina and Mississippi are right now.
The amendment supposedly would have protected people or businesses from being punished if they cited their religious beliefs in refusing service to same-sex couples. In reality, the amendment — if approved by voters — would have been cruel payback for the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage.
It’s still disappointing that the Senate actually approved the matter, and many feared that the House would, too. But the lobbying campaign, plus negative national attention to SJR39, turned the tide.
Some very upset Republicans and religious groups’ leaders immediately said they would try to quickly revive the issue. They should step back and let this matter die before the end of the 2016 legislative session on May 13.