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Missouri: Senator proposes discriminatory Arizona-like bill

Measure aims to ‘protect Missourians from attacks on their religious freedom’

Missouri Senator Wayne Wallingford has proposed an Arizona-like bill that he says aims to “protect Missourians from attacks on their religious freedom.” Credit: themissouritimes.com

A Missouri state senator has introduced a bill that, like a similar Arizona measure, aims to grant businesses the right to refuse service based on religious beliefs, The Kansas City Star reports.

Wayne Wallingford says he proposed the bill to “protect Missourians from attacks on their religious freedom.”

While Senate Bill 916 does not mention the words “gay” or “sexual orientation,” gay rights advocates suspect that the legislation would primarily target gays and lesbians for discrimination, KSHB Kansas City says in its report. 

Equality Missouri campaigns director Caleb-Michael Files suggests the characterization of the bill as a religious-freedoms measure is misleading. “It would be discrimination based on, you know, x, y and z. I think that that’s the way you frame it.”

Other political observers say there is probably little appetite for such legislation, with Governor Jay Nixon likely to veto it if it made it through the legislature.

Similar legislation stalled in the Kansas Senate, while Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is under mounting pressure to veto a religous-freedoms measure that state legislators recently green-lighted.