SJR 39 is the measure that would have”granted greater legal protections under the Missouri constitution to clergy and wedding vendors who decline to participate in a same-sex wedding.” It received a tie vote in a House committee Wednesday, which probably means it is dead. Had it passed the House, it would have gone to a vote of the people. (It passed the Senate in March after a long filibuster; JeffCo Senators Paul Wieland and Gary Romine voted yes.)
While I agree with the motivation behind this bill, the potential negative repercussions are too much. Witness what happened in North Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi recently and previously in Indiana; businesses protested and cancelled projects, performers cancelled concerts, and nationwide negative attention rained down. Is this bill worth all that?
Plus, some have said this bill was poorly drafted in a way that would not make it through the courts and would be too broad. If the Legislature wants to pass this bill, it needs to be narrow and airtight.
I agree with the sentiments of Missouri Republican governor candidate Eric Greitens, who said:
“I don’t believe this legislation is the right approach,” Greitens said in a statement. “I oppose SJR 39 because I believe that while it is well-intentioned, it could unintentionally threaten our economy and job creation.
“Here in Missouri, we are already 47th in job growth and 42nd in wage growth. We simply cannot afford more policies from Jeff City that have the potential to kill jobs.”
In general, I question whether the Legislature does enough to fix the numbers Greitens cites, instead spending too much time creating small, incremental changes in things like gun and abortion law and passing bills like this one. With its supermajorities in both chambers, Republicans have a rare opportunity to enact sweeping conservative economic, budgetary, and regulatory change.
At the same time, the GOP on a national and state level should perhaps rethink its approach towards big business. Given the way corporations are sabotaging efforts to enact these religious freedom bills, perhaps their requests for TIFs, subsidies, and tax breaks should be denied. This stuff is corporate welfare that doesn’t really help the economy anyway; but it definitely should not be awarded to companies that make public threats related to bills like this.