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'Religious Freedom' Bill Comes To Mo.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Just as similar bills in Kansas and Arizona were killed, a religious freedom bill that some call discriminatory has entered the Missouri senate.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Just as similar bills in Kansas and Arizona were killed, a religious freedom bill that some call discriminatory has entered the Missouri senate.

Sen. Wayne Wallingord of Cape Girardeau introduced the bill, SB 916, which would repeal and replace current legislation.

"Our lawmakers in Jefferson City are smart enough to know that this would bring negative attention to our state," Gay and Lesbian Community Center of the Ozarks spokesman Charles Abernathy said.

The 3-page bill doesn't directly mention the LGBT community, but opponents say it discriminates against them specifically by defining an "exercise of religion" as the right to "act" or "refusing to act" in business transactions, especially relating to same-sex couples and weddings. Missouri state law prohibits same-sex marriage.

Abernathy said he does not think the bill will go far in the legislature, but he said such a law could affect anyone if it did.

"This measure would legalize discrimination that could possibly go beyond the LGBT community," he said.

"It doesn't guarantee a religious dissenter's victory, it requires the courts to balance the interest on a case by case approach," Political Science professor Dr. Kevin Pybas said.

Pybas, who teaches constitutional law courses at Missouri State University, said the bill does not guarantee a right to discriminate.

"There's a lot of hysteria about these things that is not warranted. Our politics seems to run at a fever pitch, especially on these hot button issues," Pybas said.
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