As the country moves to be more inclusive of LGBTQ people, the state of Missouri seems to be lagging behind. According to the Kansas City Star, the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) is likely to go its 21st year without becoming law.
One indication of that inevitability is the fact that the state House gave most of its time to hearing testimony from the state’s most vocal anti-gay figures, one of whom was conservative activist and “follower of Christ” Ron Calzone.
According to Calzone, anti-discrimination laws are a form of “slavery” for property owners.
“I believe that we have a God-given right to discriminate,” he told the Missouri House Committee on General Laws. “We actually have a God-given responsibility, a duty, to sometimes discriminate.”
When asked if a restaurant owner should be able to refuse service to someone based on race, religion, or gender, Calzone said yes.
“If a restaurant owner doesn’t want to serve people with freckles, that should be his choice,” he said.
As the Kansas City Star points out, discrimination still runs rampant in some parts of the state, and businesses that discriminate against sexual orientation aren’t going away anytime soon thanks to the “perpetual silence on discrimination” from the state’s legislature.
Another person speaking out against the bill was Associated Industries of Missouri president Ray McCarty, who said that while he has no problem with with the groups currently covered by anti-discrimination laws on the basis of race or religion, he opposes adding any other minority groups “based on feelings.”
Amanda Smith of Desert Stream Ministries agreed.
“If we open this door, where does it end?” she said. “If it’s based on feelings and self-perception, what’s next?”
Speaking in favor of the bill was Rep. Tom Hannegan from the county of St. Charles. Hannegan, who is an openly gay Republican, said what any rational person would agree with — that all people need to be treated fairly.
“We’ve waiting too long, and this is too important a topic,” he said. “This is about constitutional rights, and about everyone being equal.”
The anti-discrimination measure is expected to die when the legislature adjourns on May 17.
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