Yes, we all know what East and West Coasters think about the flyover zone and its inhabitants. Many Missourians gleefully embrace and occasionally snicker at the perception of our lack of sophistication and intelligence. Here’s a little secret, I don’t even own a pair of overalls.
but I guess in trying to live up to our reputation, Missouri, along with a handful of other states, is wrestling with the major social issue of gay rights. Our esteemed state legislators, the ones who think the problem of intern sexual harassment by legislators can be fixed by intern dress codes, the ones that slurp from the trough of unlimited perks, freebies and lobbying riches, the ones with their own very cozy strange bedfellows, want to make sure that our religious freedoms are protected. Joint Resolution 39 is a constitutional amendment which would allow religious organizations, as well as individuals and “closely held commercial entities,” to refuse service to same-sex couples. It has passed the Missouri Senate, and is on its way to the House. In reality, I believe the true reason for this amendment is to allow our Republican legislators to shake their peacock tail feathers of extremism during election season, in the mistaken belief it will gain them more support.
If it passes both houses, it will be put on the ballot for Missouri voters. Before this election season, I would have taken the bet that the good voters of Missouri would never support such widespread discrimination. Now, I am not so sure.
The first problem I have always had in measures such as these, exactly whose religion are we protecting? My personal religion finds discrimination against gays to be immoral. I don’t believe other religious values supersede mine. I somehow don’t think the intended protected religious groups include everyone: Muslims, Jews, agnostics, Wiccans, etc. In fact, I believe I could correctly insert “for a subset of very conservative, anti-gay Christians” in just about every nonsensical piece of religious freedom legislation that some states are scrambling to enact.
Visit Indy, an Indiana tourism association, estimates their state lost at least sixty million dollars in tourism revenue last year after legislators passed a similar bill. Missouri’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, never known as a fortress of liberal ideals, denounced our state’s bill as bad for Missouri businesses. North Carolina passed an “emergency” anti-LGBT bill last week, and already is experiencing pushback from corporations and the general public for this discriminatory legislation.
Last Monday, Georgia’s Republican governor, Nathan Deal, said he will veto his state’s bill.
But I think we should approach the question of religious freedom from a different direction. This is the Show Me State. I would like to propose a bill that would require every establishment that doesn’t wish to serve gays put a large placard stating said fact in their front window, on all ads, marketing pieces and social media, business cards, menus, everything. They could even design a cute logo. What is the opposite of a rainbow, a storm cloud ?
This way, the public would know just what types of religious freedoms the businesses support. We would all get to employ our own religious freedom of choosing, or in most cases, choosing not to frequent establishments that try to hide their bigotry behind their own interpretations of religion.
No matter the obstructionist musical chair shenanigans now playing in our Nation’s Capital, a lawsuit addressing these issues eventually will wind its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. I firmly believe, no matter who finally plops their seat on the bench, the judges will rule that this type of discrimination, based on sexual orientation, will go the way of discrimination based on skin color. You know they already sanctioned same-sex marriage, right? Oh, and one more thing, being gay is not “catching.” I am not so sure about political grandstanding.