For greater than 20 years, Missouri has didn’t enact the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) into regulation, a invoice that may broaden the state’s civil rights protections to incorporate LGBTQ folks.
However moderately than work towards that objective, state Home lawmakers spent their time Wednesday listening to testimony from an activist on the conservative fringes, who spoke in opposition to 2 payments that may ban discrimination based mostly on sexual orientation or gender id.
“I consider that we’ve got a God-given proper to discriminate,” Ron Calzone advised the Home committee, based on the Kansas Metropolis Star. “We even have a God-given accountability, an obligation, to typically discriminate.”
Calzone — who serves as director of an obscure group known as Missouri First, which, amongst different targets, goals to “dispel the false notions about ‘separation of church and state’” and to “assert and defend the suitable sovereignty of Missourians” — additionally talked about property rights as justification for denying clients service at eating places, based mostly on race, faith, or gender.
“If a restaurant proprietor doesn’t need to serve folks with freckles, that must be his selection,” Calzone added.
When later pressed by the Star about his feedback, Calzone went additional, telling the editorial board that, “Forcing somebody to serve somebody they don’t need to serve is a type of slavery.”
State Rep. Greg Razer (D), certainly one of 4 brazenly homosexual members of the Missouri Basic Meeting and a sponsor of one of many payments that would supply protections for LGBTQ folks, expressed his frustration with the committee’s “silence and inaction.”
“It’s not the voices of the Westboro Baptist Church that concern me,” he advised the Star this week, referring to the anti-gay hate group based mostly in Kansas, which just lately traveled to Jefferson Metropolis, Missouri, to protest Razer and, what they known as, his “sodomite sport plan.”
“It’s the silence of the bulk celebration and their management that concern me,” Razer mentioned.
Certainly Home Speaker Elijah Haahr (R) has proceeded slowly and dispassionately on anti-discrimination laws, assigning MONA to a committee only one month earlier than the statehouse was set to adjourn for the yr.
And whereas it’s doubtless that most individuals in Missouri would discover views like Calzone’s excessive, because the Star’s editorial board argued, there’s clearly a receptive viewers for it in some components of the state.
The MONA debate is “a superb one for the legislature to have,” Haahr mentioned, based on the Star. “I don’t know that the difficulty is essentially ripe, however I feel that’s what the committee course of is for to work by means of the difficulty and determine if there’s a path ahead for it.”