Missouri senator proposes controversial bill

Published: Feb. 26, 2014 at 10:31 PM CST
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"Everybody has rights," said Langlois.
"Everybody has rights," said Langlois.
Freedoms that Langlois said are important for local business.
Freedoms that Langlois said are important for local business.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - There’s been controversy about a bill in Arizona, that some say discriminates against homosexuals.

Now, local Missouri Senator Wayne Wallingford is proposing a bill that many are comparing to the one in Arizona and think is just as discriminatory.

Wallingford said the purpose of the bill is religious freedom, but some worry the interpretation will affect Missourians and their businesses.

Brian Langlois with Bellvue Bed and Breakfast works to keep his customers signing the guest book, but he worries a senate bill might keep people from visiting the state all together.

"I think it would be very bad for overall business," said Langlois.

He’s talking about Missouri Senate Bill 916.

It reads in part …

"A governmental authority shall not substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion.”

Some are interpreting that similar to the Arizona bill saying business owners would have the right to turn away customers who are gay and lesbian because of their own religious beliefs.

"I'm opposed to any such bill because I believe in equal rights for everybody,” said Langlois.

In Arizona, if the similar bill goes through, the NFL has already said they will withdrawal the Super Bowl in Phoenix.

But the bill’s sponsor Wallingford said that’s not the case locally.

"This bill is not like Kansas or Arizona's bill, at all they go a lot deeper into different areas like gay, lesbian transgender, type of rights, and this bill only covers religious, exercise of religious freedom," said Wallingford.

Wallingford said he’s gotten a lot of calls on the issue.

"I would just like people to read the bill, and not read between the lines and not spin it out of control because that's not what it's intended to do," said Wallingford.

Many say the First Amendment already gives all Americans the freedom of religion.

Freedoms that Langlois said are important for local business.

"Everybody has rights, and everybody who comes into this area, regardless of their race, or gender, or sexual orientation is going to be someone to spend money in this community," said Langlois.

The bill has only seen a first reading in Missouri's Senate.

The president of the Gay-straight alliance at Southeast Missouri State said they hope it stays a proposal and doesn't go any further than that.

You can read the full text of the Missouri bill




And the Arizona bill


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