JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Two anti-LGBT "Religious Freedom" bills were introduced in the Missouri House today.

HB 2040, introduced by State Rep. John McCaherty (R-High Ridge), would provide that certain religious organizations or persons are not required to participate in any part of a marriage or celebration of a marriage if it would violate a sincerely held religious belief.

HB 2000, introduced by State Rep. Linda Black (R-Park Hills), would allow a licensed and ordained member of the clergy to refuse to solemnize a marriage which is contrary to the religious beliefs of such person.

If passed, HB 2040 could empower businesses to deny services to LGBT couples. However, HB 2000, which allows clergy to refuse to solemnize marriages contrary to their religious beliefs, is redundant and already Missouri Law:

Any licensed and ordained member of the clergy authorized to solemnize marriages may refuse to solemnize a marriage if the solemnization of such a marriage is contrary to the religious beliefs or sincerely held moral convictions of such person.

These bills grow the number of anti-LGBT legislation introduced in Jefferson City this year to five. Last week, three anti-transgender "bathroom bills" kicked off the 2016 legislative session on Jan. 6. Anti-equality legislation is at an all-time high following last summer's SCOTUS decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. 

Last year, PROMO, Missouri's statewide LGBT advocacy organization, helped to defeat a record nine anti-LGBT bills while continuing to grow support for the perennial Missouri Non-discrimination Act or MONA. The legislation has been introduced in both chambers of the General Assembly since 1998 and would add LGBT protections to Missouri's Human Rights Statute regarding housing, employment and public accommodation.


"Missouri law still says it is legal to fire, evict, or deny service to someone simply because they are gay or transgender," said Steph Perkins, Interim Executive Director of PROMO. "Every hardworking Missourian should be able to live and provide for their family, including LGBT Missourians. Now is the time to pass the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA)."

MONA was pre-filed this year by State Sen. Joseph Keaveny (D-St. Louis County) as SB 653.

PROMO's annual LGBT Equality Lobby Day will be held on Feb. 16, 2016 at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.



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