Missouri Businesses And Law Professors Speak Out Against SJR 39

More businesses and law experts are now speaking out in opposition to Missouri's SJR 39.

On Tuesday, businesses and organizations from around The Show Me State announced the formation of Missouri Competes, a coalition that opposes the constitutional amendment SJR 39, which would enshrine discrimination in the state constitution by allowing businesses and taxpayer-funded organizations to ignore any law that conflicts with their “sincere religious belief concerning marriage between two persons of the same sex.”

"This misguided bill would damage Missouri's reputation and hamper our state's ability to attract top talent, ultimately leading to tens of millions of dollars of lost revenue," the group's website states. "That's why businesses are committed to stopping this harmful legislation and promoting Missouri's reputation as a premier place to do business."

Over 90 businesses and organizations have signed on to the coalition, including Google Fiber, Dow, MasterCard, Monsanto, Nestle Purina, Pfizer, Marriott, Square, the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Salesforce, the St. Louis Sports Commission, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Also released today was a letter opposing SJR 39 by the Public Rights / Private Conscience Project, a think tank based at Columbia Law School. The group, which includes a number of Missouri law professors, contends that the overly broad amendment would conflict with the First Amendment and encourage discrimination.

"[T]he Missouri constitution now provides ample protection to the religious liberty rights of the people of Missouri, rendering SJR 39 an unnecessary supplement to those more than adequate provisions already embodied in state and federal law. This proposed amendment to the Missouri constitution risks unsettling a well-considered balance between religious liberty and other equally fundamental rights," the letter says.

As the Missouri's House Emerging Issues Committee meets tonight to discuss the amendment, we hope that the words of both the Missouri Competes businesses and Public Rights / Private Conscience Project law experts remind committee members that allowing individuals to use religion to discriminate is bad for business and bad for ordinary Missourians.