JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - In an email to supporters, PROMO, Missouri's statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, voiced its opposition to a fifth piece of anti-equality legislation introduced in the General Assembly this session.


HB 927 will prohibit an institution of higher learning from taking any action or enforcing any policy that denies a religious student association any benefit available to other student organizations or from discriminating against a religious student organization with respect to the benefit based on any of the religious requirements or leadership standards placed on the organization.


Samati Niyomchai, PROMO Manager of Public Policy, has been closely participating in opposition to this bill, which was called before the House Committee on General Laws. The legislation would allow for religious student groups at public universities and colleges to deny membership into their organizations based on so-called strongly held religious beliefs while still receiving funding and sponsorship from the college or university.


PROMO and its partners at the ACLU believe that such a bill would specifically target and discriminate against LGBTQ students attending college at one of Missouri's public universities. And, as public universities, it would force public funding to support overt discrimination against its students. 


State Rep. Dirk Deaton (R-159-Noel), the bill's sponsor, insisted that he is concerned about "viewpoint discrimination," believing that people of certain religious and political beliefs were being treated unfairly and differently from others.


"While some may disagree with anti-LGBTQ religious views, it is also a person's right to believe them," said Niyomchai in the email. "Where the line stops, in the case of House Bill 927, is that a public institution, like UMSL, Truman State, Mizzou, and even the community colleges, would be forced to fund student groups that deny membership based on strongly held religious beliefs -- even when the organization was violating a university's own internal nondiscrimination policies. Nearly all publicly funded universities and colleges in Missouri have passed their own nondiscrimination protections that extended to the actions of student organizations. HB 927 puts those hard-fought policies at risk." 


"The effects of bills like this would be extremely broad: it would affect women, people of color, religious minorities, single-parents, and even unmarried couples living together. Government funding should not be used to support discrimination," Niyomchai continued.


"PROMO supports the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. While we may not agree with anti-LGBTQ religious views, we seek not to change minds or change how churches and denominations state their beliefs; we, however, believe that religion or politics should not be an excuse to discriminate, especially when using government funding," said Niyomchai.


Four other bills, all sponsored by State Rep. Jeff Pogue (R-143-Salem), are equally anti-LGBTQ. PROMO has pledged to be in the Capitol every day to ensure that all anti-equality legislation does not move forward:


HB 797 would require all public restrooms, other than single occupancy restrooms, to be gender-divided


HB 798 would prohibit the appropriation or expenditure of state revenues for the purpose of creating a gender-neutral environment, unless required by a federal or state court order


HB 780 would allow anyone authorized to solemnize a marriage in Missouri to refuse based on religious beliefs or moral convictions


HCR 30 is a resolution that calls for a Special Session for the purpose of eliminating the state's involvement in the institution of marriage


On February 19, PROMO hosted a lobby day at the Capitol, in which 70 LGBTQ and ally Missourians learned how to build and effectively share their stories with their elected officials on why comprehensive nondiscrimination protections matter to everyone. A second lobby day is scheduled for April 10th.


In 2018, PROMO defeated all 7 anti-LGBTQ bills filed.



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