A far-reaching proposal in the Missouri Senate would change laws on how religious beliefs are governed in public settings.
The bill from Republican Senator Bob Dixon of Springfield requires public colleges and universities to offer religious student groups the same benefits as other student organizations. The intent could be similar to legislation currently being debated in Iowa. A bill there seeks to protect religious student groups who claim they’re being treated differently from other groups that require members to align with their beliefs, such as a feminist union or Korean student organization.
A religious student group in Iowa complained when it was decertified by a university because after it barred a gay member from becoming a leader. The measure in the Missouri Senate also modifies the Missouri Human Rights Act to allow businesses and individuals to decline goods and services, such as floral arrangements or photography, to same-sex weddings based on their religious opposition.
The bill further bars cities and counties from penalizing individuals and entities that believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman. It would also make numerous other changes to the state Human Rights Act which are meant to protect religious beliefs of organizations and individuals.