Missouri Bill Would Allow Businesses To Refuse Service If "Substantially Motivated" By Religion

Categories: LGBT, News

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Republican State Senator Wayne Wallingford supports discrimination as long as its religiously motivated.
A Republican state senator introduced a bill this week that could allow Missouri business owners to refuse service to customers if "substantially motivated by religious belief."

The bill was introduced Monday by Republican Wayne Wallingford. In 2013, the two-term Senator from Cape Girardeau joined Democratic lawmakers in an attempt to prohibit workplace discrimination based on gender and sexual identity.

But a year seems to have changed Wallingford: His newly-introduced bill seeks to broadly protect religious expression in Missouri -- even if that religious expression is of the "We don't serve your kind" variety.

See also: Banned from Communion at Mother's Funeral, Missouri Lesbian Couple Asks Pope for Help

"We're trying to protect Missourians from attacks on their religious freedom," Wallingford told The Kansas City Star.

Wallingford's bill, Senate Bill 916, states that a governmental authority shall not substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion unless it demonstrates a compelling governmental interest. For example, the bill could grant a restaurant owner the right to use his religious belief as legal justification for refusing to serve a same-sex couple.

Progress Missouri director Sean Soendker Nicholson sees this bill as an overstep in the wrong direction.

"We have a First Amendment, it does a great job of protecting our religious liberties," he says. "What we don't have are protections for LGBT people in the workplace. That's the kind of law we need to pass."

Nicholson is correct on both counts.

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via
During his State of the State Address, Governor Jay Nixon argued that "No Missourian should be fired because of who they are or who they love."
Indeed, Missouri's Human Rights Act does not currently recognize discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. With Wallingford's support in 2013, the Missouri Senate passed a measure banning such discrimination, but the House never brought the measure up for a vote. (More recently, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon used his State of the State address to call for an end to LGBT discrimination in the workplace.)

But it's Nicholson's initial point, about the First Amendment, that makes religious freedom bills like SB 916 so problematic for Washington University law professor Gregory Magarian.

"Usually courts are very skittish about making pronouncements about religious liberty," says Magarian. "A lot of time they say, look, what the religious person says is a sincere religious belief, and we'll take their word for it."

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution already protects free expression of religion and blocks the government from favoring a particular faith. (Of course, there are limits to the First Amendment's protection.)

"We're talking about religious liberty...but underneath it all, this is still an effort by states to license discrimination," Magarian says.

See also: ACLU And Eight Gay Couples Sue Missouri Over Same-Sex Marriage Ban [Updated]

Though the SB 916 does not explicitly mention sexual orientation, Wallingford told The Kansas City Star that his bill is designed to protect businesses like Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned retail chain that's fighting the Affordable Care Act's mandated contraception coverage on religious grounds.

Magarian says the Hobby Lobby lawsuit inspired this new wave of religious freedom legislation. In Arizona, a bill similar to SB 916 is awaiting approval or veto from governor Jan Brewer; In Kansas, legislation allowing businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples passed the House but was defeated in the Senate.

See also: Anti-Evolution Bill Lets Parents Pull Students from Class, Gets Missouri on the Daily Show

In the end, what may sink Wallingford's bill -- and all those like it -- is that it would establish religious protection on the backs of a particular class of people.

"The wrinkle here is that the law is based on a particular kind of legislative animus, against same sex couples. That's a problem," says Magarian. "If I were the Supreme Court or the legal authority in charge of figuring this out, I would strike it down."

Daily RFT has reached out to Wallingford for comment. We'll update if we hear back.

Updated 11:40 a.m.: Sex-positive coffee shop Shameless Grounds added this poster to its Facebook page this morning. (Alas, it seems Wallingford will have to find a different establishment if he wants his morning coffee served with a vintage Playboy.)

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Facebook/Shameless Grounds

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com

My Voice Nation Help
76 comments
david.luesley
david.luesley

If it passes suddenly every black, brown and non Christian will be perceived as gay by these sensitive Christian merchants. Apparently

The states rights cover for discrimination isn't adequate anymore.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

Jim Crow is back people, and that is just sad.

Daniel Knoll
Daniel Knoll

enough with the transparent anti-gay bills that present themselves as meaning to protect other s from discrimination by legally enforcing discrimination...

davidhhawley
davidhhawley

Now the bill that was put forward by idiots, some of whom thought better of it afterwards, has been vetoed in Arizona, this makes a bold statement about Missouri. We're not just idiots, we're people who espouse already discredited ideas put forward by other idiots.


Heaven save us from career politicians. 

Jay Hemp
Jay Hemp

What's next, break-out the old "colored only" signs for the water fountains? Kyle DB: of course it doesn't say it in the bill, politicians aren't that stupid, but it is all about sexual orientation. Here's my proposal: add to the bill that any business planning on taking part in this discrimination must post at the door of their business that they reserve the right to do so and exactly whom they will be refusing to serve. This information must also be included in all advertising; print, radio, television, and internet. I'd be all for that, it'll make it clear what business owners refuse to step into the 21st century!

Don Lanier
Don Lanier

HATE is hate no matter what they cloak it in, this cats outta the bag, its not going away and the redneck, hating, white hood wearing, bigots and paranoid jerks need to come to grips with Modern America....another HUGE waste of time, he should be Censured, and docked his pay for even suggesting it....DUMBASS

Theirry Less
Theirry Less

This is ridiculous. Does this mean I can refuse service to people that I believe to be Christians? Seems only fair....

Sally Enderle
Sally Enderle

Why use religion for someone's hate ful agenda.

Laura Bass
Laura Bass

Unbelievable Bigotry Under religious Beliefs! !!!!!

Barry Bean
Barry Bean

I guess you're going to have to have sex with someone just to get in!

Colleen Peck
Colleen Peck

Wonder why I am not religious, they are hateful people aren't they.

Kyle DB
Kyle DB

Doesn't say anything about sexual orientation.

Karl Richards
Karl Richards

Bring on the Bill and bring on the onslaught of businesses closing because a majority of us refuse to pay for service provided by hate mongers who hide behind religion. Bring it!

Abby Shimona
Abby Shimona

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States[4] that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.[5] It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (known as "public accommodations").

Abby Shimona
Abby Shimona

Let me remind you of a piece of History! The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States[4] that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.[5] It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (known as "public accommodations").

Spencer Reed
Spencer Reed

It's always some whacko "Christian"...pretty sure JC would say "Bro, just hug them, and sell them some steak, or whatever, it's cool." I think the places refusing service should have to list everyone NOT welcome on their front door.

Shauna Michelle Meidinger
Shauna Michelle Meidinger

OH my effing GOD. If Missouri passes that bill I think I will move out of the state. Whose with me?!

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

The few ultra wack-jobs in St. Louis aren't enough to over-take all votes in the country. They are not the ones keeping this state Red. If the country voted Blue, we would be in a Blue state, not a Red one with two Blue dots on either side (St. Louis and Kansas City).

Jason Patrylo
Jason Patrylo

and i think there needs to be a list made of all places that refuse people services, so I know how to keep my money out of these bigots hands.

Laurie Smith
Laurie Smith

If you are so moved by your religion to spread hate, then you are no better than the Taliban or Al Quaida, or even Westboro Baptist Church. It is stupidity at the extreme

Christopher Schmidt
Christopher Schmidt

Sounds like he's been channeling thoughts from his buddy Rush a bit too much lately. Wonder how this dude got elected, oh wait, by people that also don't think like him, what a moron.

jimbokeefe
jimbokeefe

They want to "take our country back " Yeah back to the 30s

Robert Phillips
Robert Phillips

Some of you need to realize that the most conservative people in this state are here in metro St. Louis. This is not an "out-state" or "country" issue for Missouri. Phyllis Schlafly's family is from the CWE and some of the biggest Tea Party Christian conservatives live in Town & Country.

Melvin Mohn
Melvin Mohn

They should add politicians to the list of people they can refuse.

Justice Rising
Justice Rising

This is such a segragated unhumane act of the slime balls

Justice Rising
Justice Rising

where is your humanity. first you try to assimilate native americans and now your trying to place a bill of cruel and unusual punishment just because they are LGBT. What happens if you son or daughter were LGBT and this bill was passed and then could not buy groceries at schnucks or save alot. You disgust me, and you don't even deserve your seat for unhumane motion on the floor.

Kimberly Dorrell Peters
Kimberly Dorrell Peters

the whole IDEA of having a "right to discriminate" just burns me...didn't we already have this conversation with the "separate but equal" BS??

Justin Worland
Justin Worland

This is a great way to attract newcomers to your religion.

Megan Prewitt
Megan Prewitt

I could be wrong here, but I think all business owners have the right to turn down service for any reason already, such as not wearing a shirt or shoes. They own the business, they can make that decision. They wouldn't need a bill to let them do that. The government shouldn't be able to regulate that kind of business decision, anyways, in my opinion. Let people serve who they want. It's their business. This bill is stupid.

David Hagan
David Hagan

Welcome to the hate state of Misery - somebody substantially motivate this clown out of office and back to whatever rock he crawled out from under.... :poop:

George Cameron
George Cameron

Kyle DB, this isn't merely disagreement, it's discrimination. You should learn the difference between intolerance and justifiable concern over the precedents set by such a move before you slam other people for not sharing YOUR opinion.

Justice Rising
Justice Rising

Well if this were to be true then all native american business owners could in fact refuse service to non-native residents anywhere in the united states. lol

csacks1
csacks1

Exactly!  What would Jesus do?  Most definitely not this.  Of course, most of the stuff these type of Christians do has very little to do with what Jesus would do.

sooperman8577
sooperman8577

But see, St Louis and Kansas city isn't whats making it red...they are actually blue...its the whole rest of small town, small minded Missouri.  But I will tell you what, all these people on camera having a rally to suppress gay rights are going to be no different in 20 years that what we look at today when African americans where suppressed.  I don't get why they don't see that.

csacks1
csacks1

Ok, let people serve who they want, and if that business chooses to discriminate, let us know so those of us who oppose discrimination will simply not patronize those businesses.  Let them lose money or go out of business. Fine with me!

jimbokeefe
jimbokeefe

If so then why can't the decide if one can smoke there

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