Friday, March 11, 2016
Cape Girardeau Republican: I am fighting for religious liberty
This week in the Missouri Senate was one for the history books. A 39-hour filibuster over Senate Joint Resolution 39 occurred from the evening of March 7 to the early morning hours of March 9, as minority caucus members attempted to block the resolution’s passage to the House. This ended up being the longest ongoing filibuster in our state’s history and topped the previous 38-hour record set in 1999.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 39 seeks to protect religious organizations, clergy and private business owners from incurring state penalties as a result of their sincere religious beliefs. The “religious liberty” legislation would prohibit the state from imposing any penalties on houses of worship, religious leaders, individuals, religious societies and more who decline to perform, acknowledge or participate in same-sex marriages based on their beliefs. This legislation acts as a shield for any organization or religious member acting in a way they deem to be in accordance with their faith: A right that is one of the main building blocks of this great nation.
Religious liberty and the right to practice and abide by a faith of your choosing was the original reason behind America’s founding. This resolution, which would amend the state’s constitution, seeks to uphold that principle. By not allowing the state to impose fines, alter taxes, deny accreditation or withhold state services from a religious organization or leader, SJR 39 protects our state’s clergy, priests, churches and holy houses from being persecuted for their beliefs.
The minority caucus attempted to block the passage of this resolution this week by halting the legislative process for almost 40 hours with a filibuster. Because the bill was passed in the Senate it now moves on to the House for consideration and approval. If SJR 39 is passed in the
House, which it most likely will be, the resolution will be added to the ballot in August or November to be decided on by the voters of this state.
Protecting our religious liberty is something that is very important to me. This past week in the Senate was one of highest importance as a resolution doing just that was perfected and moved forward. Ultimately, the citizens of Missouri will be the ones deciding on the future of this legislation when it comes time for them to vote on it next election. No matter what you might believe, I believe that each and every person should be able to abide by their own values and faith without fear of persecution. In the end, that’s the real importance of this week’s debate.