Members of the Religious and LGBT Communities Protest at the Capitol

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Demonstrators rally at the state capitol Thursday against a controversial proposal that would protect religious organizations and individuals who refuse to participate in a same-sex wedding.

SJR 39 will allow voters to decide if businesses can choose whether to serve same sex couples or members of the LGBT community to the state's constitution.

"There are pieces of this bill that are very specific to same sex couples for organizations, religious entities, private businesses," says Steph perkins, the Executive Director of Promotions.

"This bill makes Missouri an unwelcome place for LGBT people."

Over 4,000 signatures were delivered to the Speaker of the House, Tim Richardson and Representative Elijah Haahr Thursday morning.

"It’s exceptional for democracy in our state to have that much engagement by our constituents," says Haahr.

Religious bills similar to SJR 39 have caught national attention but Haahr says the one proposed in Missouri is different.

“In those states, those bills moved through the legislative process and the governor had the ultimate say. SJR 39 is different."

Haahr says this bill is far from being perfected.

“My committee members will consider the testimony and make determinations about whether or not they think the bill is a good bill to move forward."

Katherine Connor says as a member of the religious community, this bill will hurt the state.

“Businesses aren't allowed to discriminate against African Americans and other minorities and I don't think they should be allowed to discriminate against LGBT."

Perkins hopes the rally today will wake lawmakers up.

“Bottom line, it says that Missouri is not open for business for LGBT people."

And at least one already has. St. Louis based representative Stacey Newman says it's a step backwards.

“I am completely opposed to legalizing discrimination particularly putting any kind of discrimination into our constitution,” says Newman.

Haahr says he is aware of how controversial this law is and will not allow pressure from other lawmakers or from news around the country to sway his conversation.


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